Landing evades SpaceX Starship during test flight in Texas

SN9 Starship prototype had smooth launch but landing ended in explosion

Following a mostly successful test flight of SpaceX’s Starship over Texas Tuesday the spaceship prototype came back down for a crash landing, similar to another test the company completed last month.

The company was planning to test another prototype of the Starship, known as Serial No. 9, or SN9 last week but the Federal Aviation Administration had not yet given SpaceX launch approval needed for flight. On Tuesday, they got the go-ahead from the FAA and SN9 took off a few minutes after 3:20 p.m. ET

SN9 launched to 10 kilometers from the company’s site in Boca Chica, Texas, a small beachside town along the Gulf of Mexico just north of the Rio Grande River.

The shiny spaceship powered by three Raptor engines had a smooth flight up to 10 kilometers then each engine began to shut down, allowing SN9 to perform a belly flop maneuver and head back down for landing.

“SN9′s Raptor engines will then reignite as the vehicle attempts a landing flip maneuver immediately before touching down on the landing pad adjacent to the launch mount,” according to SpaceX.

SN9 exploded upon impact leaving a dust cloud in its wake.

[Re-watch the SN9 test flight at the top of this story.]

“We just gotta work on that landing a little bit,” SpaceX engineer John Insprucker said after the explosion, reminding views that this was a test.

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