SpaceX's Mars test rocket makes 1st flight, landing upright

SpaceX has launched a prototype of its Mars rocketship 500 feet into the air, landing it upright

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- SpaceX launched a prototype of its Mars rocketship hundreds of feet into the air, then landed it upright in a successful test flight.

Musk said several more short hops are planned before a test version of Starship aims for a high altitude. The latest test model is relatively plain: It stands a full-scale 100 feet (30 meters) tall and resembles a steel silo — or stretched-out can — with a cap on top.

The private company plans to launch reusable Starships atop still-in-the-works rockets, carrying cargo or crew not only to low-Earth orbit but also the moon and Musk's most desirable destination, Mars. The entire stack will stretch nearly 400 feet (120 meters).

On Sunday, SpaceX safely returned two NASA astronauts from the International Space Station following a two-month test flight. Their Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the Pensacola, Florida, coast.

SpaceX is now the only private company to fly people to and from orbit.

“We're going to go to the moon. We're going to have a base on the moon. We're going to send people to Mars and make life multi-planetary," Musk said following splashdown. "This day heralds a new age of space exploration. That's what it's all about.”

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