SpaceX's Starship Prototype Rocket Explodes Upon Landing

SpaceX Rocket Explodes On Landing Attempt After Test Flight

Elon Musk's SpaceX gets green light from FAA to launch its Starship SN9 prototype as early as TODAY

The rocket launched smoothly around 2:35 pm local time (2035 GMT) and progressively shut down its engines as it reached a height of six miles (10 kilometers), then performed a series of test maneuvers in a horizontal "belly flop" position.

"All four flaps are actuated by an onboard flight computer to control Starship's attitude during flight and enable precise landing at the intended location".

It was poised to take off for the test launch last week, but it stayed grounded because SpaceX violated a public safety agreement it had with federal regulators during a previous test launch, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The latest prototype of SpaceX's next-generation Starship rocket exploded after it attempted to land, following a development test flight.

A close-up video of Starship shows a blowout in one of the engines and pieces of rocket debris were seen flying out from spacecraft.

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.

SpaceX fans have flooded social media after the fiery crash landing.

Indeed, today's repeat of the December 9 high-altitude test (and subsequent landing crash) of Starship SN8 may have been enough to prompt SpaceX live-caster and principal integration engineer John Insprucker to confess in the livestream feed, "We've just got to work on that landing a little bit".

Ultimately, it appears that Tuesday is likely out of the question for Starship SN9's launch debut.

Another said: "It looks like they just wait too long to flip it upright and turn the engine on".

SpaceX is developing Starship in a bid to build a multi-planetary launch vehicle capable of reaching the Moon, Mars and beyond. "Reminder - this is a test flight".

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, which oversees U.S. airspace as well as licenses rocket launches, ordered SpaceX to halt operations at its testing facilities in South Texas "that could affect public safety", the agency said.

One SpaceX fan said: "It took Falcon 9 so many tries to eventually nail the landing that SpaceX had enough footage for an entire crash highlight reel haha".

The reasoning behind the FAA's involvement was not yet clear, by many had speculated the issue stemmed from the SN8 launch in December.

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