SpaceX’s first Starship high-altitude flight test this week was quite a spectacle. Starship serial number 8 slowly lifted off its test stand in Boca Chica, Texas. These are some of the best views from SpaceX and our Space Explored team who captured the event on location — collected in one place for you to enjoy.

Our team traveled to South Texas to cover the monumental first flight of Starship SN8. This was not just a test for Elon Musk’s dream rocket, but also a test of one of NASA’s Human Landing Systems in the running for the Artemis program and possibly the future of casual travel around Earth.

Liftoff!

The remarkably slow liftoff caused by having more fuel in the tanks than assumed took many of us for surprised. Some people that showed up to view in person expected an aborted attempt when it Starship didn’t immediately clear the pad, but it soon started to slowly rise out of the dust caused by the three Raptor engines coming alive.

Photos taken by An Tran and Seth Kurkowski for Space Explored

Courtesy of SpaceX

Ascent

Starship SN8 slowly ascended towards its goal of 12.5-km. In an interesting surprise, SpaceX gradually shut down Raptors during ascent which caused some confusion among the public as to whether or not they had lost an engine. By the time it was firing its last Raptor, Starship was hovering than ascending.

Photos taken by An Tran and Seth Kurkowski for Space Explored

Courtesy of SpaceX

Bellyflop

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk mentioned that even just reaching apogee would be a success. As soon as the final Raptor engine cut off, SN8 started to begin its bellyflop re-entry maneuver — omething brand-new for the vehicle and only tested in simulation. It preformed perfectly, and it looked like it was floating down back to Earth as if it were a feather.

Photos taken by An Tran and Seth Kurkowski for Space Explored

Landing flip and an almost soft landing

One of the biggest unknowns of the test flight was the landing flip maneuver. This drew large criticism from the industry as not being possible prior to launch, but SpaceX pulled it off and made it look easy. SpaceX reignited all three of SN8 Raptor engines mid-flight for the first time ever and flipped the spacecraft from being horizontal to vertical to prepare for landing.

Sadly, there looked to be some issues with the engines during landing. Green flames firing out of one of engines possibly meant copper bits were being burned up. SN8 wasn’t able to slow itself down fast enough to land softly, and from views shared by SpaceX, it didn’t even look like the vehicles landing legs were deployed in time either.

Photos taken by An Tran and Seth Kurkowski for Space Explored

Courtesy of SpaceX

SpaceX released video from the launch pad of the landing flip and landing attempt.

Full coverage of the test flight

STEM educator Everyday Astronaut and Brownsville local Austin Barnard shared their own unique perspectives and insights of the launch that are also worth viewing.

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