SpaceX Starship Test Flight Blows Up Again, Can't Quite Stick Landing

Pablo Tucker
February 3, 2021

"So all told, another great [flight] - and a reminder, this is a test flight, the second time we've launched starship in this configuration", he remarked.

At least one of the engines appears to have malfunctioned, however, as the rocket tipped over backwards seconds after ignition. The prototype spacecraft launched to a height of 6.2 miles (10km) after which it came plunging to the ground.

SpaceX engineer John Insprucker said on the company's livestream of the event that much of the test flight "looked to be very good", and engineers were able to gather data to help improve the Starship design throughout the flight, which reached about 10 km, or six miles, high.

Starship SN9 exploding on landing, in close proximity to its SN10 successor.

The final phase of the reusable rocket's flight involved the so-called "flip and burn" maneuver, where the rocket reorients nose up and two Raptor rocket motors slow its descent back to the pad.

It was poised to take off for the test launch last week, but it stayed grounded because SpaceX violated a public safety agreement it had with federal regulators during a previous test launch, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. But a stalled production cadence has increased pressure to launch - as SN10, the next Starship - rolled out next to its predecessor last week. "You know, for dramatic effect".

According to Mary (aka BocaChicaGal), one of a handful of remaining Boca Chica Village residents, SpaceX has asked the villagers to evacuate for an SN9 launch attempt as early as Tuesday afternoon (CST/UTC-6).

A third person said: "A bit too light on the power the first time, a wild swing this time, looks like an engine didn't relight to stabilize it".

SpaceX is developing Starship in a bid to build a multi-planetary launch vehicle capable of reaching the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Update: Despite signs to the contrary yesterday evening, SpaceX appears to have received an FAA license for Starship SN9's high-altitude launch debut or is confident that that disputed license is imminent.

There was no immediate comment from Mr Musk, who also heads the electric carmaker Tesla and tweeted early on Tuesday, hours before the test SpaceX launch, that he planned to take a hiatus from Twitter "for a while".

One SpaceX fan said: "It took Falcon 9 so many tries to eventually nail the landing that SpaceX had enough footage for an entire crash highlight reel haha".

SpaceX had sought a waiver to exceed the maximum allowable risk to the public of Starship SN8.

Other reports by iNewsToday