SpaceX Starship Test Ends in Spectacular Explosion, Again

SpaceX’s second Rocket prototype missile test on Tuesday February 2nd had a strong sense of déjà vu. Why? Because just like the previous test flight at high altitude, it crashed on landing and burned.

Powered by its three Raptor engines, the next-generation “SN9” prototype SpaceX rocket roared from the launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas at 12:25 p.m. PT and reached its target altitude shortly after the four-minute mark of 32,800 feet.

On its descent, the 160-foot booster again performed the all-important flip maneuver to prepare for an upright landing, but like its first high altitude test flight in December 2020, the rocket dropped too hard and reached a slight angle, causing it to explode in a spectacular fireball.

“We had another great flight,” said SpaceX engineer John Insprucker on the company’s livestream of the test flight, adding, “We just have to work a little on this landing.”

The Starship prototype was lowered under active aerodynamic control. This was achieved through the independent movement of the vehicle’s two forward and backward flaps, operated by an on-board flight computer, which also controls Starship’s attitude and landing process.

Once SpaceX nails its Starship tech, the team will launch the spaceship – which also acts as a second stage booster – on the powerful first stage Super Heavy rocket, a first stage booster with 31 Raptor engines that is also still is under development.

The ultimate goal is to use the Starship and Super Heavy rocket as a fully reusable space transportation system that can carry up to 100 people and cargo to orbit, the moon, Mars and possibly beyond.

“All in all another great one [flight]”Insprucker said later,”[As a] Reminder, this is a test flight – the second time we’ve launched Starship in this configuration. We have a lot of good data and we achieved the main goal of demonstrating control of the vehicle and re-entry into subsonic. “

The S10 prototype is already installed at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility, potentially ready for the third high altitude test flight in the coming weeks. In advance, the team will carefully examine the data collected and presumably make some careful adjustments to give the booster a better chance of surviving its next outing.

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