The company SpaceX has managed to land one of its Starship prototypes after successfully completing a high-altitude test flight.

Starship Serial Number 10 (SN10) touched down in Boca Chica, Texas, after completing a test flight, in which the prototype rocket made a series of in-flight manoeuvres before landing safely on the launch pad, using its extended legs as support. 

A statement on the official SpaceX website outlined the various mission stages: “SN10 was powered through ascent by three Raptor engines, each shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee – approximately 10km in altitude. SN10 performed a propellant transition to the internal header tanks, which hold landing propellant, before reorientating itself for reentry and a controlled aerodynamic descent.”

This is the first time one of the Starship prototypes has landed safely, as previous flights Serial Number 8 (SN8) and Serial Number 9 (SN9) both failed during the landing stage, crashing into the ground.

“Third time’s a charm,” noted the SpaceX webcast commentator, John Insprucker, on hearing about the successful landing.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the new 50m tall Starship rocket will be bigger and better than the Falcon rockets, which are currently used in crewed and uncrewed missions for NASA and the American military. He hopes that the Starship rockets will be capable of orbiting satellites, as well as carrying passengers from Earth to the Moon and Mars.

Unfortunately, after landing, a fire developed around the rockets’ base due to its legs’ collapsing. Attempts were made to douse the fire with water, but eight minutes later, the rocket blew itself apart on the landing pad.

Despite this hiccup, the mission was entirely successful and will help further SpaceX’s research into the creation of new and improved rockets.

There are more Starship prototypes currently in various stages of development, the newest being Starship Serial Number 19 (SN19).

Like many of SpaceX’s current fleet, Starship is being designed to be fully reusable, preventing the littering of space junk after launch. These incredible elements would allow it to make propulsive returns to Earth so it can be used over and over again.

The Starship rocket is also intended to be used in a lunar excursion in 2023. 

Japanese entrepreneur and billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, purchased all of the seats on the Starship rocket, and hopes to take part in the first civilian mission to the Moon. He is currently on the look out for eight other individuals to join him on the flight.

To read more about Maezawa’s “dearMoon” project, click here.