SpaceX Launches (and Crashes) 1st Starship High-Altitude Test Flight

Watch SpaceX's huge Mars-colonizing spaceship jump 8 miles into the sky.

The Starship spacecraft is a massive vehicle meant to take people to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Loren Elliott/Getty Images

On Wednesday, SpaceX launched the latest prototype of its future Mars-colonizing spaceship, Starship, to an altitude of about 8 miles (12.5 kilometers) for the first time in a major test from the rocket company’s Boca Chica test site in southern Texas.

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The launch, while successful, ended with an unexpected crash landing, as you can see below. The crash isn’t considered a failure, though it immediately went viral on Twitter.

The first attempt to lift off was aborted at the last second Tuesday afternoon at around 5:30 p.m. due to an engineering problem with one of Starship’s three Raptor engines. A second attempt failed again on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m before a third was deemed a go. You can watch that below.

The suborbital flight test is a key milestone in the Starship project. SpaceX has completed two low-altitude flight tests with previous prototypes (SN5 and SN6) and multiple static fire tests with the new SN8 prototype. Tuesday’s high-altitude test will provide crucial information about how Starship’s three Raptor engines perform during suborbital flight, the spacecraft’s overall aerodynamic entry capabilities and how it manages propellant transition.

A lot of things could go wrong, warned SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. In a Twitter conversation with reporters last week, the entrepreneur said there’s “maybe 1/3 chance” that flight will be successful.

SpaceX Launches (and Crashes) 1st Starship High-Altitude Test Flight