Elon Musk’s SpaceX lands Starship spacecraft in first full successful test flight
The flight comes after NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop Starship to land astronauts on the moon.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX finally stuck the landing of one of its Starship spacecraft prototypes Wednesday, a key milestone in the test program and a dramatic statement coming just two weeks after NASA chose the vehicle to fly its astronauts to the surface of the moon.

The Starship spacecraft, known as Serial Number 15 (SN15), lifted off from SpaceX’s launch site near the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas, firing its three Raptor engines to an altitude of about 6 miles. It then turned itself sideways in a “belly flop” maneuver and headed back to Earth before righting itself, reigniting its engines and touching down softly.

“The Starship has landed,” John Insprucker, SpaceX principal integration engineer, said during the live broadcast.

The flight was the fifth high-altitude test of a Starship prototype, and the first that ended without the rocket destroyed. Musk’s company is developing Starship to launch cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars. The landing caps off a busy period for SpaceX that has seen the return of astronauts to Earth aboard a Crew Dragon and a milestone Starlink launch, not to mention Musk is hosting Saturday Night Live this week.

Nailed it! Elon Musk’s SpaceX blasts its Starship SN15 rocket six miles into the sky before returning it safely to the pad – a month after the last prototype exploded after landing
The Elon Musk-owned company launched SN15 around 6:24pm ET on Wednesday, following a day of delays and anticipation, from its testing facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

SN15 ignited its three massive Raptor Engines that released out streams of white smoke from the base before fire blew out to shoot the rocket into the air. The prototype climbed through the sky until it reached six miles, hovered for a moment and then performed the infamous sideways flip, dubbed a ‘belly flop’ maneuver by Musk.

‘Starship landing nominal,’ Musk tweeted moments after his pride and joy made a safe and successful landing on the pad. The successful landing brings the billionaire one step closer to fulfilling his dream of sending the humans to Mars.

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The $2.9 billion contract was awarded to SpaceX by NASA earlier this month. In doing so, it turned down the bids by two other private space firms, including Blue Origin and a defence contractor from Alabama named Dynetics.

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Image courtesy SpaceX and MSN

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