• SpaceX's Starship captured a stunning video of its reentry as it fell back to Earth.
  • The footage from Starship's first successful flight shows dense red-hot plasma lashing the spaceship.
  • It's the best and clearest video footage yet of a spacecraft enduring the fiery fall back to Earth.

SpaceX's Starship captured a stunning video of its reentry into Earth's atmosphere as it finished its first successful flight through space on Thursday.

SpaceX aired the footage live on its webcast on X, showing thick ultra-heated plasma lashing Starship and turning parts of the spacecraft red-hot. See it for yourself:

Starship completely dropped out communications after recording this footage, possibly because it broke apart or blew up. The spacecraft is lost, but the video lives forever.

Previous footage of reentries has shown the view from inside the cabin of a crewed spacecraft, as the astronauts inside see it.

An astronaut's view of what it looks like inside a spacecraft that's plummeting to Earth at breakneck speed. Foto: NASA/YouTube

The new SpaceX footage shows an unprecedented view of the ultra-hot plasma condensing around the outside of a reentering spaceship, lashing its protective heat shield belly with temperatures up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

"It's certainly very unusual, and certainly the best footage we've gotten so far," astronomer Jonathan McDowell told Business Insider.

It's hard to design a spacecraft that can withstand those extreme conditions, which may be why Starship ultimately didn't survive the fall. But the thick resistance of the atmosphere also helps slow down the fall, so that Starship can eventually land itself on solid ground and live to fly another day.

"The atmosphere is actually doing us a huge favor here by acting as a braking system for Starship as it reenters the atmosphere," Kate Tice, a SpaceX engineering manager, said in the livestream for Thursday's launch.

That reusability is Starship's great appeal. If SpaceX can succeed in consistently reusing both the Starship spaceship and its Super Heavy booster, it could slash the cost of spaceflight and greatly expand humanity's opportunities in space.

Read the original article on Business Insider