SpaceX Prototype Rocket for the Moon and Mars Makes First Successful Landing

SpaceX’s prototype rocket, Starship, which has plans to eventually go to the Moon and Mars, has made its first-ever successful landing back on Earth.

The space company founded by Elon Musk has made four attempts at landing one of these rockets following a takeoff since December and each time, the rocket landings were unsuccessful, ending in a fireworks show of explosion. Wednesday’s flight, however, was a success and the rocket landed vertically as intended, as reported by The New York Times.

The above tweet was Musk’s first tweet following the first-ever successful landing of his company’s prototype rocket, something the SpaceX team has been working toward for months. According to NYT, Wednesday’s flight saw the rocket shoot into the “skies over Boca Chica, adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.” It flew for four minutes to a maximum altitude of about six miles before heading back down to its landing pad in Texas.

On its way back to the surface of Earth, the rocket flipped into a horizontal orientation until it was closer to the landing pad, at which point its engines were powered back on to position the rocket into its standard vertical landing position, according to NYT.

This successful landing is a big step forward for SpaceX, which is working toward preparing this type of rocket for landing on the Moon and even Mars. SpaceX’s now-famous Falcon 9 rockets are used often by NASA to bring satellites into space or people and cargo to the International Space Station. The challenge of SpaceX’s prototype rockets used Wednesday is landing them successfully.

“SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively referred to as Starship) represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond,” according to the SpaceX website. “Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.”

According to SpaceX, the Starship being tested as of late will take Japanese entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa and the crew of dearMoon to space in the first-ever civilian passenger flight. The dearMoon project is currently accepting applications for eight more civilians on the flight, which will feature a flyby of the Moon during the ship’s week-long journey.

For more about SpaceX, read about how the company is going to race remote-controlled cars on the Moon this year and then read about how SpaceX is building NASA’s new Lunar Lander. Check out this story about how SpaceX successfully launched 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit last year and then read about how SpaceX astronauts used a Baby Yoda doll as a zero-gravity indicator on a flight last November.

Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance news writer and guide maker for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @LeBlancWes

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