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Wed, Feb 03, 2021

Starship SN9 Flies... But Still Can’t Hack The Landing

One Raptor Engine Appears To Have Failed In The Final Descent

After days of turmoil with our old friends at the FAA, Elon Musk's SpaceX has apparently learned to play nice with the feds and got the clearance to fly Starship SN9 in the second such test of a higher altitude flight -- this time to 10 KM, with a re-entry transition and final reorientation for landing... and again, SN9 got almost all of it right.

Almost.

This time, it appears that in the final transition to the landing attitude and reignition of two Raptor engines, that one not only didn't fire up properly but video suggests it may have come apart, as debris was clearly seen near the descending machine right after reignition. SN9 hit the deck at a high rate of speed and inclined some 45 degrees off axis and offered the usual fiery explosion, post-impact.

Keep in mind that not only is the Starship vehicle still VERY experimental, but so are the Raptor engines that power it... and that future versions of the Starship will use dozens of the things to (hopefully) loft some folks to Mars. But... it still needs some tweaking...

In the meantime; SN10 is already on the pad and was close by as SN9 demonstrated it's RUD (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly) abilities some 6 minutes and 26 seconds after roaring to an all-too brief life. One SpaceX spokesperson indicated that SN10 might fly before the end of the month but a lot will depend on what happened to the errant Raptor (if that is actually what occurred) and what fixes may be required. More info to follow. 

FMI: www.spacex.com

 


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