A SpaceX Starship test rocket exploded on landing Tuesday, the second time in two months one of these prototypes had issues getting back down to Earth.
The SN9 rocket launched earlier in the day from the SpaceX complex in Boca Chica, Texas, near the far southern border with Mexico. The goal was to fly as high as six miles, the equivalent of 32,800 feet altitude.
“We had, again, another great flight up … we’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit,” said SpaceX principal integration engineer John Insprucker during the company’s webcast of the flight.
Entrepreneur Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, is the driving force behind SpaceX. He started it in 2002 with long-term plans to colonize Mars. But to get to Mars, the company has worked to not only develop rockets but make the cost of space travel a lot cheaper.
The company is privately owned, but it does do public projects with the federal government. Last year, SpaceX flew two American astronauts to the International Space Station via the SpaceX Dragon.
Musk eventually wants to make these rockets reusable. The prototypes are made of stainless steel. SpaceX is developing Starship to take cargo and as many as 100 people at a time to the Moon or Mars. But it’s all in the test phase. CNBC said the S10 already was in place for a test launch from Boca Chica. Musk said Starship is the company’s main priority and that the development program must accelerate “dramatically and immediately.” CNBC reported this after viewing one of Musk’s emails.
About That Last Starship Launch
Earlier Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that SpaceX violated its launch license last month with the S8. The Post said that SpaceX sought a waiver from the FAA that would have allowed it “to exceed the maximum public risk allowed by federal safety regulations.”
But the Post reported that the FAA denied the waiver. SpaceX launched the S8 anyway. The FAA told Elon Musk he needed to suspend operations that could impact public safety. The FAA finally allowed the next launch.
Still, Musk blasted the FAA on Twitter, writing:
“Unlike its aircraft division, which is fine, the FAA space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure. Their rules are meant for a handful of expendable launches per year from a few government facilities. Under those rules, humanity will never get to Mars.”
Musk, who loves social media, said earlier in the day he’d be off Twitter “for a while.” So there was no immediate word on what he thought regarding the S9 launch.