Elon Musk Says 'Mars, Here We Come!' After SpaceX Starship Test Rocket Explodes

Although its latest test launch ended in a fiery explosion, SpaceX boss Elon Musk has praised the Starship rocket project, tweeting: "Mars, here we come!!"

On Wednesday, the launch came to a dramatic end as Starship serial number 8, or SN8, erupted into a massive ball of flames while preparing to land—in stunning footage that has been widely shared across social media.

The unmanned prototype lifted off from the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas, and lasted for about seven minutes, collecting data for future tests and conducting critical flight maneuvers.

On Twitter, Musk praised SpaceX as viewers lauded the launch as a milestone in the development of space travel.

Musk wrote: "SN8 did great! Even reaching apogee would've been great, so controlling all way to putting the crater in the right spot was epic!!" He said there was a successful ascent, switchover to header tanks and good flap control to the landing point.

"Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD [rapid unscheduled disassembly—another term for explosion] but we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!" Musk added.

Starship landing flip maneuver pic.twitter.com/QuD9HwZ9CX

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 10, 2020

SpaceX's #Starship prototype SN8 explodes on impact during its attempted landing pic.twitter.com/bnmC6SqqAc

— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) December 9, 2020

Thank you, South Texas for your support! This is the gateway to Mars.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2020

SpaceX says Starship will be a reusable transportation system that can carry crew to orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond—and will be able to lift more than 100 metric tonnes of cargo. It reached 40,000 feet altitude on Wednesday, CNBC reported.

In a statement on its website, the company said: "Thank you to all the locals supporting our efforts in Cameron County and beyond. Congratulations to the Starship and SpaceX teams on today's test! Serial number 9 (SN9) is up next—Mars, here we come!"

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said the Starship launch had ultimately been a "huge success," tweeting on Wednesday: "Congrats on the test flight. So many things learned-a big step. Hopefully no one hurt in the hard landing and explosion."

SpaceX did not report injuries and has been contacted for comment by Newsweek.

Before the launch, Musk cautioned that it might not be successful, writing on Twitter: "Probably 1/3 chance of completing all mission objectives."

SpaceX had echoed Musk's warning, saying: "Success is not measured by completion of specific objectives but rather how much we can learn."

While schedules are unclear, it has been reported that the SN9 prototype is well into development.

The billionaire SpaceX and Tesla boss, who this week confirmed that he had personally moved to Texas, described the state on Twitter as a "gateway to Mars." Musk has repeatedly suggested that humans should aim to colonize the Red Planet in the future.

"If there's something terrible that happens on Earth, either made by humans or natural, we want to have, like, life insurance for life as a whole," Musk said during a conference in August, CNN reported. "Then, there's the kind of excitement and adventure."

Elon Musk
SpaceX owner Elon Musk on the red carpet for the Axel Springer awards ceremony in Berlin on December 1. Musk has praised a test launch in the Starship rocket project, tweeting: “Mars, here we come!!” BRITTA PEDERSEN/POOL/AFP/Getty