Up to date 7:45 p.m. with FAA assertion.
WASHINGTON — A second prototype of SpaceX’s Starship reusable launch car carried out a suborbital flight Feb. 2, solely to crash whereas touchdown.
The Starship SN9 car lifted off at about 3:25 p.m. Japanese from SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas, take a look at website. SpaceX deliberate to fly the car to an altitude of 10 kilometers earlier than touchdown on a pad on the take a look at website.
The liftoff and ascent of the car went as anticipated, based on commentary on the SpaceX webcast by firm engineer John Insprucker. The car reached the 10-kilometer mark 4 minutes after liftoff and, after hovering briefly, flipped to a horizontal orientation to glide again to the touchdown pad.
Because it neared the pad, Starship flipped again to the vertical and ignited its engines. Nonetheless, solely one of many three Raptor engines ignited, and the car appeared to swing previous the vertical. The car crashed at near a 45-degree angle and exploded 6 minutes and 26 seconds after liftoff.
The flight was nearly equivalent to Starship SN8’s flight Dec. 9. That car made what seemed to be a largely profitable flight till touchdown, when an engine did not ignite and the car got here in too shortly, exploding because it hit the pad. Nonetheless, on that flight the car was within the correct vertical orientation for touchdown, quite than at an angle as with SN9’s tried touchdown.
“We had once more one other nice flight as much as the 10-kilometer apogee,” Insprucker mentioned on the webcast after the crash. “We demonstrated the flexibility to transition the engines to the touchdown propellant tanks. The subsonic reentry seemed superb and steady like we noticed once more final December.”
“And once more, we’ve simply set to work on that touchdown just a little bit,” he added, emphasizing that the launch was a take a look at flight.
SpaceX received approval for the flight from the Federal Aviation Administration less than 24 hours earlier. The company suspended launches from Boca Chica after SpaceX’s SN8 flight. SpaceX had sought a waiver to a most public danger requirement in its launch license, however proceeded with the flight though the FAA rejected the waiver request.
In a press release issued a number of hours after the take a look at, the FAA mentioned it will oversee the investigation into the SN9 crash. “Though this was an uncrewed take a look at flight, the investigation will determine the foundation reason behind in the present day’s mishap and doable alternatives to additional improve security as this system develops.”
Relying on the result of the evaluation within the SN9 crash, SpaceX may transfer forward shortly within the total Starship take a look at program. The subsequent prototype, SN10, arrived on the take a look at website Jan. 29. Insprucker mentioned that SN10 is being ready for a “related flight later this month.”