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UPDATE: SpaceX's Starship sticks its landing but blows up

Aside from the massive explosion, the landing was a success.
Credit: SpaceX via AP
In this image from a video made available by SpaceX, one of the company's Starship prototypes fires its thrusters as it lands during a test in Boca Chica, Texas, on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. SpaceX’s futuristic Starship looked like it aced a touchdown Wednesday, but then exploded on the landing pad with so much force that it was hurled into the air. The failure occurred just minutes after SpaceX declared success.

CAMERON COUNTY, Texas — UPDATE 3: For reasons yet unknown, SpaceX's Starship exploded on the landing pad minutes after a successful high-altitude flight test and landing.

UPDATE 2: SpaceX's latest Starship high-altitude flight test proved to be a success. SN10 is the company's third prototype after two previous attempts to have the spacecraft hover above the ground before reorienting itself to land ended in fiery explosions.

All-in-all the liftoff attempt spanned just shy of seven minutes. Space lovers watched the Raptor engines fire and lift SN10 approximately six miles into the air before it began to hover. 

Next came the horizontal shift of the spacecraft as it began its descent back to the pad in Boca Chica. Typically, SpaceX's downfall was the flip sequence which reorients Starship ahead of touchdown.

March 3 changed all that as SN10 landed as it was programmed to and a cloud of dust spanned the launch site. Once cleared, the prototype stood tall, marking a victory for the future of "fully reuseable" space transportation.

SpaceX said the soft landing allowed the private space company to collect data on controlling the vehicle.

Watch a recap of the moment below.

UPDATE: SpaceX aborted today's SN10 high-altitude flight test with 0.1 left on the clock. Viewers got to see the abort first-hand as the Raptor engines fired, but the latest prototype never left the ground.

Company founder and CEO, Elon Musk said the launch was aborted due to a conservative high thrust limit for the spacecraft.

Given the hours remaining in SpaceX's 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. test window, another flight attempt is projected to be made two hours after the abort.

To do so, Musk says the team will increase the "thrust limit & recycle propellant."

The original story is below.


SpaceX could attempt another high-altitude flight test of its Starship prototype Wednesday. SN10 would mark the company's third test of the prototype.

The launch window for SN10 has been cleared to take place at the company's Cameron County, Texas site anytime between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The latest launch follows the explosive landings of the SN8 prototype last December and the SN9 prototype earlier this year. Both attempts were considered successful by the company due to the data it collected.

SpaceX's latest model will attempt to lift off the pad, hover above the ground for several minutes and then cut off its Raptor engines for descent. The goal is for SN10 to then reignite its engines and successfully reorient itself to attempt a vertical landing.

Wednesday's test will see Starship reach approximately 6 miles in altitude.

"A controlled aerodynamic descent with body flaps and vertical landing capability, combined with in-space refilling, are critical to landing Starship at destinations across the solar system where prepared surfaces or runways do not exist, and returning to Earth," SpaceX wrote.

Once perfected Starship is slated to be capable of providing a "fully reuseable" transportation system that aims to carry both crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond, according to SpaceX.

You can catch the flight test live here.

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