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Recently, SpaceX conducted the first major flight test of its Starship spacecraft. The Starship reached a height of 12.5km before it dramatically crash-landed in a huge fireball explosion.

SpaceX chief executive, Elon Musk, predicted before the test flight that there was only a one in three chance that the launch and landing will be a success.

Even though the test flight did end in flames, this achievement still marks a major milestone towards sending humans to Mars. Soon after launching, and before the crash landing, Mr Musk tweeted enthusiastically about the test. 

The serially delayed launch took place at 16:45 local time [2245 GMT], only 15 minutes before the day’s launch window had closed. Two minutes after lift-off, it was reported that the base of the spacecraft appeared to catch on fire, but soon went out. 

As the craft reached its target altitude, the Starship SN8 then attempted to perform a complicated flip landing whereby it essentially belly flops to Earth. 

The craft soon appeared to lose control after not making the intended 60-degree angle. However, the Starship soon righted itself, leading to an almost perfect landing without a crash. Unfortunately, as the SN8 touched down, the Starship crumpled into a ball of fire.

Before the test, SpaceX revealed in a statement that; "SN8’s flight test is an exciting next step in the development of a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. As we venture into new territory, we continue to appreciate all of the support and encouragement we have received.”

The prototype spacecraft did, however, appear close to achieving the landing. The spacecraft was also able to fulfil several other key objectives that were a priority during the first-ever flight test of this sort.

Musk Tweeted saying; "Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point."

The Starship SN8 also failed a similar attempt, such as the 12.5 km sub-orbital flight, marking just 1.3 seconds to go until liftoff. 

However, SpaceX is hard at work as the next Starship prototype, the SN9 is already built. The SN9 is expected to attempt a similar flight test shortly from SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility based in Texas.

Musk stated that he hoped to send the first humans to Mars aboard a Starship craft in 2024.

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