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SpaceX’s Starship prototype explodes again on the landing attempt

SpaceX’s Starship prototype explodes again on the landing attempt

February 3, 2021: The recent prototype of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket successfully launched on Tuesday but exploded during the landing after a development test flight.

Starship prototype Serial Number 9 aimed to fly as high as 10 kilometers. The flight was like the one SpaceX developed in December when it launched prototype SN8 on the highest and longest flight to date.

The rocket took off successfully but exploded while returning to the ground, just like SN8 did in December.

“We had, again, another great flight up; we’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit,” SpaceX principal integration engineer John Insprucker said on the company’s webcast of the flight.

Stainless steel is used to built the rocket protocol, representing the early versions of the rocket that CEO Elon Musk described last year. The company is developing Starship to launch cargo and about 100 people on missions to the moon and Mars.

Despite Starship SN9 suffered the same explosive fate as SN8 two months ago, SpaceX views the test flight as a step toward the development of the rocket. SN10, likely the next to attempt a launch-and-landing, was in the process already when SN9 took to the skies.

The SN9 launch attempt was delayed for about a week as SpaceX worked to get the FAA’s permission to launch.

Musk previously said that Starship could fly people in 2020, but he’s acknowledged since the rocket still having many milestones, including “hundreds of missions,” to go before that happens.

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 a Starship fully reusable rocket that is more akin to a commercial airplane, with short turnaround times between flights where the only high cost is fuel.

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