SpaceX's Starship program still can't quite stick the landing.
That was the news out of Texas this afternoon, as Elon Musk's private space-travel company tested yet another prototype rocket that crashed back down to Earth. The SN9 was able to launch successfully and reached an altitude of over 32,000 feet. The rocket then turned back and crashed into the ground in a massive fireball. SpaceX engineers are still viewing the launch as a success, however.
"So all told, another great [flight] -- and a reminder, this is a test flight, the second time we’ve launched starship in this configuration,” principal integration engineer John Insprucker said during a livestream of the launch. “We’ve got a lot of good data, and [achieved] the primary objective to demonstrate control of the vehicle and the subsonic reentry.”
"We’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit," Inspruker joked.
They will get another chance soon enough. The startup space company is rolling out prototypes at a rapid clip. SN8 launched in December and met a similarly fiery end. SN10 is already on a launchpad and awaiting another chance to come back to Earth in one piece.
The Starship is a continuation of SpaceX's successful Falcon rocketry, in which parts of the rocket return to Earth to be reused. Musk's goal with Starship is to create an entirely reusable ship that can carry supplies and astronauts off-world.