SpaceX shares video of Starship SN8 high-altitude test

SpaceX has been pushing hard to perfect its Starship heavy launch rocket that it plans to use to carry people and cargo to the moon and beyond in the future. On Wednesday, December 9, Starship SN8, the eighth prototype, lifted off from the Cameron County launchpad in Texas. SN8 lifted off and successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and performed its landing flip maneuver showcasing its precise flap control to reach its landing point.

SpaceX notes that low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn led to high touchdown velocity that resulted in a hard landing. A video of the test flight has been released, allowing viewers a close-up look at every aspect of the test flight. The video starts as the rocket prepares for launch.

The trio of engines inside the spacecraft ignites, pushing the large craft into the heavens. Part of the video is shot from a camera attached to the side of the spacecraft, with another camera offering footage from inside the bay where the engines are kept. The video clearly shows the engines as they move back and forth, maintaining precise control of SN8.

We also see when each of the three engines cuts off as the spacecraft prepares to descend back to Earth. After the engines cut off, we see what appears to be a plume of smoke coming from the spacecraft. The plume is the release of liquid oxygen, which looks like smoke when it hits the atmosphere.

One of the things SpaceX is most proud of is that the spacecraft could perform a first of its kind controlled aerodynamic landing flip maneuver. We can clearly see the large fins on the spaceship as they move to control its attitude and direction. The engines reignite for the landing burn, but at the last second, the spacecraft is moving too fast, hitting the ground hard and exploding.