For the first time ever, SpaceX’s Starship prototype managed to land safely after a successful test, marking a major milestone in CEO Elon Musk’s plan to use it as a lander for missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

“Starship landing nominal!” Musk tweeted on Wednesday, after the SN15 vessel successfully touched down on the landing pad in Boca Chica, Texas – just north of the border with Mexico.

The 150-foot (45 meter) tall SN15 had taken off at 5:24 pm local time (10:24 GMT) and flew to the altitude of about six miles (almost 10 km) to test a series of maneuvers. Its three Raptor engines gradually shut off and SN15 went into horizontal free-fall, before two of the rockets were reactivated to “flip” the ship for a vertical landing.

For the next several nail-biting minutes, all eyes were glued to the vessel, as the ill-fated SN10 had also landed only to undergo “rapid unscheduled disassembly” by exploding on the pad, back in March. Flames that briefly licked the underside of SN15 were quickly extinguished, however, and the test was judged a success. (RT)