SpaceX successfully launches and lands its Starship prototype rocket

SpaceX flew the 15th prototype of its Starship fully reusable next-generation rocket today, with a test flight that included a successful climb to around 30,000 feet, as well as a controlled flip, descent and soft landing upright as planned

This is a big milestone for SpaceX, which has flown prototypes before, but which hasn’t yet seen a test conclude with the test vehicle intact. It’s last test launch, SN11, ended in an explosion and total loss of the rocket just before touchdown.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed the good touchdown of SN15 just after the launch livestream concluded. This is a key step in development of the Starship’s orbital capabilities, which will require the vehicle to perform this landing maneuver after it’s launched to space atop a Super Heavy booster rocket (also in development) and makes the return trip from orbit. SpaceX also aims to use Starship for future lunar and Mars launches and landings.