Elon Musk’s SpaceX has lost another Starship but this one was a close run thing. The oversized rocket prototype, which will eventually transport humans to another planet (hopefully soon, this one’s almost out of warrantee), underwent a test-flight yesterday.
In common with previous tests, the launch and descent went perfectly. Not in common with the other test attempts, the SN10 Starship made it to the ground in one piece. Where it stayed for a few minutes before exploding. Which is progress, of a sort.
Starship no longer making an impact
You see, the previous Starship tests have involved explosions on impact. As can be seen in the video above, one of the boosters experiences an issue that sends a ball of flame to the outside of the rocket casing. It also looks like that booster quits working right before touchdown, perhaps leading to a harder knock than the SpaceX team were expecting.
Some internal damage, plus residual heat (and the fact that it was on fire), is all that is needed for the SN10 to ignite on the launchpad and take flight for the second time that day. A more detailed (and definitely more accurate) explanation will doubtless turn up in the coming days.
But SN10’s test was, largely, successful. It soared to a height of just about 10km above the Boca Chica launchpad in Texas, reoriented itself from its ‘belly flop’ and successfully navigated the landing. Odds are we’ll see SpaceX landing the Starship prototypes more and more in the coming months.
Video: VideoFromSpace (YouTube)