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SpaceX rocket launch deemed a success despite explosive landing

Posted at 6:15 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 18:15:28-05

SpaceX’s test flight of its next-generation Starship rocket was deemed a success, despite a bit of an explosive landing.

As part of the launch, SpaceX attempted to perform a “flip landing” of the rocket. Although the flip landing resulted in the rocket blowing up, the finish was not unexpected.

“Lot of things need to go right, so maybe 1/3 chance,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said last month about the odds of the rocket nailing the landing.

The rocket’s mission was not to leave Earth’s atmosphere, but to test several parts of the Starship rocket.

“This suborbital flight is designed to test a number of objectives, from how the vehicle’s three Raptor engines perform to the overall aerodynamic entry capabilities of the vehicle (including its body flaps) to how the vehicle manages propellant transition. SN8 will also attempt to perform a landing flip maneuver, which would be a first for a vehicle of this size,” SpaceX said before the flight.

SpaceX said even if not everything went correctly, there would be plenty to learn from this test to improve on future flights.

“With a test such as this, success is not measured by completion of specific objectives but rather how much we can learn, which will inform and improve the probability of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances development of Starship,” SpaceX said.

Musk deemed aspects of the launch a success.

“Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!” Musk tweeted.

The rocket remained airborne for over six minutes, and it was slated to reach an altitude of 41,000 feet.