SpaceX Mars rocket prototype explodes on landing, again

SpaceX Mars rocket prototype explodes on landing, again

You may recall back in December when SpaceX was doing a short up-and-down test of their colossal new Starship that ended in a crash and a very big fireball when the quad-winged-silo-like rocket attempted to make a vertical landing but came in a bit hot and crashed.

As the smoke was still rising, he bellowed, "Another great test flight". described everything that went right and then deadpanned, "We've just to work on that landing a little bit".

SpaceX looked ready to ace the launch and landing of the SN9 up until the soft landing attempt.

The trouble came when the Starship - after flipping its nose upward again to begin its landing sequence - tried to reactivate two of its three Raptor thrusters, but one failed to ignite.

SN9 took off and flew without incident, but blew up while landing, just like the SN8 prototype rocket did last December.

He said SpaceX engineers would pore through data collected from the test to determine what went wrong, and "we'll be back with another Starship in the near future".

SpaceX SN9 Explosion 1
Starship SN9 exploding on landing in close proximity to its SN10 successor. Source SpaceX Twitter

The Federal Aviation Administration said earlier this week that SpaceX had conducted that test without permission, violating its launch license. But a stalled production cadence has increased pressure to launch - as SN10, the next Starship - rolled out next to its predecessor last week. The agency did not disclose the nature of the public safety issue or what corrective action was undertaken.

The FAA, which oversees commercial space operations, said Tuesday that it has determined that SpaceX now complies with federal regulations and can proceed with its launch plans.

The FAA debacle started Thursday after the SpaceX crew made preparations for the hop and residents living around the Boca Chica facility had evacuated, which is required during high altitude tests.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who used Twitter to publicly bash the FAA last week, wrote Tuesday morning that he would be "Off Twitter for a while". Prior to that launch, SpaceX had "sought a waiver to exceed the maximum public risk allowed by federal safety regulations", according to the FAA, but the agency denied that request.

It is not clear if the FAA would have investigated the company regardless of whether SN8 landed successfully.

SpaceX's prototype rocket took to the skies today (February 2) after a long month fraught with delays, bad weather and regulatory chaos. It's not clear when the company will attempt to launch it, but over the weekend, the company rolled the vehicle out a launch pad adjacent to where the SN9 took off.

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