SpaceX successfully landed its prototype Starship rocket at its Texas base on its fifth attempt, a livestream showed Wednesday.
The test flight represented a big win for Elon Musk’s hard-charging space company after the last four tries ended in explosions.
“Starship landing nominal!” tweeted Musk.
“Nominal” means normal in the context of spaceflight.
The execution wasn’t quite perfect, with a small fire engulfing the base of the 50 meter- (160 feet-) high space vessel shortly after landing.
SpaceX webcaster John Insprucker explained this was “not unusual with the methane fuel we’re using,” adding engineers were still working out design issues.
The flames were quickly put out with a water cannon, footage showed.
Earlier, the rocket dubbed SN15 took off from the Starbase in Boca Chica, southern Texas at around 5:25 pm local time (2225 GMT), reached an altitude of around 10 kilometers (6 miles) and performed a series of flight maneuvers.
SpaceX was facing added pressure to succeed with Wednesday’s flight after NASA announced a version of Starship will be used as a lunar lander when the space agency returns humans to the Moon.
The $2.9 billion contract is currently suspended after two rival companies, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Dynetics, lodged a protest.
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