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World SpaceX's new Starship rocket prototype soared 6 miles above Texas, but exploded during a landing attempt

00:46  03 february  2021
00:46  03 february  2021 Source:   businessinsider.com.au

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SpaceX ' s Starship SN9 rocket prototype flubbed its landing in Boca Chica, Texas , on February 2, 2021, leading to a large explosion . SPadre.com. SpaceX launched a 16-story prototype of its Starship Mars rocket system 10 kilometers ( 6 .2 miles ) above Boca Chica, Texas on Tuesday. The prototype , called SN9, was supposed to attempt a soft landing , but the spaceship slammed into the ground sideways and exploded . This is the second time the aerospace company, founded by Elon Musk, has launched such an ambitious Starship flight and seen the vehicle destroyed upon landing .

SpaceX launched a prototype of its Starship rocket miles into the air Wednesday and, finally, landed it successfully. But 10 minutes later, the rocket exploded . To start, Starship 's three truck-size Raptor engines roared to life, heaved it off the ground, and rumbled past the launchpad at SpaceX ' s facilities in Boca Chica, a remote strip of land in southeastern Texas . After the rocket began its descent, two aerodynamic wing flaps at its nose cone and two at its base — operated by an onboard computer — moved independently to control SN10's fall and maintain its belly-flop position.

smoke coming out of a plane: SpaceX's Starship SN9 rocket prototype attempted yet failed to land in Boca Chica, Texas, on February 2, 2021, leading to a large explosion. SpaceX's Starship SN9 rocket prototype attempted yet failed to land in Boca Chica, Texas, on February 2, 2021, leading to a large explosion.
  • SpaceX launched a 16-story prototype of its Starship Mars rocket system 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) above Boca Chica, Texas on Tuesday.
  • The prototype, called SN9, was supposed to attempt a soft landing, but the spaceship slammed into the ground sideways and exploded.
  • This is the second time the aerospace company, founded by Elon Musk, has launched such an ambitious Starship flight and seen the vehicle destroyed upon landing.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Through the south Texas haze on Tuesday, SpaceX pulled off a stunning high-altitude test flight of a Starship rocket prototype. However, the vehicle failed to stick a landing.

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SpaceX ' s latest Starship rocket prototype once again failed to finish its test flight in one piece. This version of the vehicle, called Starship serial No. 11, or SN11, sent debris raining down during an unsuccessful landing attempt on Tuesday morning. Starship heaved itself off the launchpad at 8 a.m. local time, launching 6 miles into the skies above Texas . As it approached the peak of its flight, the 16-story rocket shut off two of its three truck-sized Raptor engines. It hovered at 33,000 feet, then cut the final engine, tipped sideways, and plunged back to Earth.

SpaceX ' s Starship rocket prototype exploded during a return- landing attempt on Wednesday, minutes after an apparently uneventful test liftoff from the company's launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas . The Starship rocket destroyed was a 16-story-tall prototype for a heavy-lift launch vehicle being developed by Elon Musk's private space company to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on gfuture missions to the moon and Mars.

The launch of the roughly 16-story test vehicle, called Starship serial No. 9, met the same fate as its predecessor, SN8: it slammed into the landing pad, resulting in a catastrophic explosion.

SN9 lifted off a pad in Boca Chica, a remote strip of land in southeastern Texas, around 3:25 p.m. ET under the thrust of three truck-size Raptor rocket engines. The vehicle then soared to 6.2 miles (10 kilometers), gradually cutting its engines on the way up. Using just one engine, it hovered at the peak of its flight for about 30 seconds, then cut that engine and belly-flopped toward the ground â€" a test of Starship's need to control its descent from space using small wings.

As SN9 fell back to Earth, the rocket reignited its engines in an attempt to quickly turn itself upright. But it appeared to lack enough thrust from at least one engine, causing the ship to tilt past upright, lean to its other side, and hit a concrete pad at an angle, exploding its remaining fuel reserves.

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SpaceX ’ s Starship rocket exploded during its landing attempt in Boca Chica, Texas , following a test flight on Wednesday, December 9.This video streamed live on SpaceX ’ s website shows massive plumes of smoke wafting from the SN8 rocket as it burst into flames during the attempted landing . SpaceX founder Elon Musk wrote on Twitter after the crash landing : “Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!”.In another Twitter post Musk proclaimed the test flight a success despite the explosion , writing: “Mars, here we come!!”

The latest prototype of SpaceX ' s next-generation Starship rocket launched successfully on Tuesday but exploded on impact during an attempted landing after a development test flight. Multiple prototypes are being built simultaneously at SpaceX ' s growing facility in Boca Chica, Texas , with its SN10 rocket already rolled out to a second launchpad nearby. While SpaceX ' s fleet of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are partially reusable, Musk's goal is to make Starship fully reusable — envisioning a rocket that is more akin to a commercial airplane, with short turnaround times between

Chunks of the steel ship flew thousands of feet into nearby coastal prairie. When the dust and smoke cleared, all that was left were charred remains of SN9.

SPadre.com captured the incident from a camera on top of a building in South Padre Island, which is located about 9.5 kilometers (5.9 miles) away:

SpaceX also livestreamed the flight, and a camera near the landing pad recorded the descent from below and the explosion from a different angle:

"As you can see from the scene, we had â€" again â€" another great flight up to the 10-kilometre apogee," John Insprucker, an aeronautical engineer at SpaceX, said during a live broadcast of the flight. "We've just got to work on that landing a little bit."

Sticking the landing is a key part of SpaceX founder Elon Musk's quest to realise Earth's first fully and rapidly reusable rocket system. (You can't reuse a rocket that gets severely damaged every time it launches and lands.)

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A full-scale prototype of of SpaceX ' s futuristic Starship rocket blasted off from south Texas Wednesday in the program's most ambitious test flight to date, soaring to airliner altitudes before falling back to Earth and righting itself as planned for a tail-first landing attempt . Going into the flight, Musk gave the test a one-in-three chance of meeting all the planned objectives. A Tuesday launch attempt was called off at the T-minus 1.3-second mark because of an engine abort. Another recycle was called with less than three minutes to go Wednesday, but the SpaceX team fixed whatever stopped the

SpaceX is set to launch a new prototype of its Starship rocket ship six miles above south Texas on Tuesday, according to government notices. The launch attempt follows a public quarrel between Elon Musk the Federal Aviation Administration over regulatory roadblocks last week, and a reported investigation into SpaceX violating its launch license. The tricky launch involves the 16-story rocket soaring to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), belly-flopping toward the ground, reigniting its three Raptor engines, and turning upright just before touching down on a landing pad.

SN9 represents only the upper stage of a two-part system; a roughly 23-story booster called Super Heavy is designed to one day heave the Starship spaceship toward orbit.

Eventually, Musk has said that the Starship-Super Heavy system could fly people to orbit, the moon, and Mars, where he hopes to establish the first human civilisation on another planet.

However, the company must first figure out how to land the rocket back on Earth in one piece, then quickly recycle it for its next launch. So far, its two attempts at flying Starship prototypes to high altitudes have not been able to land without exploding. The company still claims them as successes, though, since they demonstrate that the rocket can fly to suborbital altitudes and use its wing flaps to control its plummet back towards Earth.

"This is a test flight, the second time we've flown Starship in this configuration. We've got a lot of good data in the primary objective: To demonstrate control of the vehicle in a subsonic reentry," Insprucker said.

SpaceX also has to clear big regulatory hurdles before it can fly the full Starship-Super Heavy system toward orbit.

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Starship's road to orbit is paved with regulations

a train on a track with smoke coming out of it: An illustration of SpaceX's planned 39-story Starship rocket system launching from Boca Chica, Texas. An illustration of SpaceX's planned 39-story Starship rocket system launching from Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX first launched a Starship prototype of this kind in early December. Called Starship serial No. 8, or SN8, it roared tens of thousands of feet above the company's south Texas facilities. As SN8 neared the ground, low pressure in a propellant tank caused the spaceship to slam into a concrete pad and explode.

It was not immediately clear on Tuesday afternoon if SN9 encountered a similar issue or if something entirely different caused its fiery demise.

SpaceX plans to conduct more suborbital test flights, including with SN10 â€" which sat on a launchpad next to SN9 â€" to further test, improve, and master its spaceflight systems. It's unclear if the newer prototype was damaged by the shrapnel of its predecessor.

The eventual plan is to rocket a Starship into orbit and test its ability to reenter Earth's atmosphere without breaking into pieces and burning up. Before SpaceX can attempt this, though, it needs to get an orbital-class launch licence from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Obtaining such a licence requires clearing many regulatory hurdles, the most laborious of which is called the National Environmental Policy Act. SpaceX previously completed an intense, nearly three-year environmental impact statement for Boca Chica launches in July 2014. But that plan described flights of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets â€" not Starship-Super Heavy, which is several times larger than either existing vehicle.

The company is now waiting to start an environmental assessment process, or EA, which could take several months to complete. However, if it reveals "impacts that cannot be mitigated," according to the FAA, SpaceX may need to conduct another impact statement, which can take an additional one to three years.

It was recently revealed SpaceX plans to dig natural-gas wells in Boca Chica â€" most of which is a nature preserve â€" to fuel both Starships and power plants.

Watch SpaceX's SN9 flight broadcast

SpaceX livestreamed the flight attempt, which you can replay on YouTube.

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