SpaceX CEO Elon Musk lauded the launch of unmanned rocket prototype Starship SN8 after it traveled nearly eight miles into the sky and returned to a landing pad before exploding.
“Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point,” Musk tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. “Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!”
Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2020
Last month, Musk suggested SN8 had a one in three chance of landing successfully but downplayed the importance of it happening, explaining that there would also be SN9 and SN10 tests. As The Daily Wire previously reported, “SN3 collapsed during pressure testing in April, then SN4 exploded during a static fire test the following month. SpaceX engineers learned from each setback, modifying designs and changing some materials.”
The rocket itself is about 165 feet tall, and CNBC reports that previous prototypes have only been sent 500 feet in the air — roughly a tenth the altitude of SN8 on Wednesday. Musk has previously said he wants to send the first unmanned SpaceX mission to Mars in 2024, during the launch window that occurs every 26 months.
According to The Wall Street Journal, one of the main purposes of this flight in particular was to monitor the Starships direction capabilities during descent, which involves a “flip maneuver” that spins the cone toward the sky right before landing.
Starship landing flip maneuver pic.twitter.com/QuD9HwZ9CX
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 10, 2020
Musk said Tuesday that he had moved to Texas, a decision in line with his threat to leave California amid a wave of government mandates and forcible closures.
“We are a bit worried about not being able to resume production in the Bay Area, and that should be identified as a serious risk,” Musk said of various government orders on a conference call back in March, reported The Verge. “The expansion of shelter-in-place, or as we call it, forcibly imprisoning people in their homes, against all their constitutional rights, is, in my opinion, breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong, and not why people came to America and built this country.”
“If somebody wants to stay in the house that’s great,” he added. “They should be allowed to stay in the house and they should not be compelled to leave. But to say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do…this is fascist. This is not democratic. This is not freedom.”