SpaceX lost its SN11 Starship prototype approximately six minutes into its journey, marking the fourth ship in a row that has been destroyed in yet another high-altitude test flight.
Like all the previous flight testing, the Starship took off from SpaceX’s Boca Chica base. It is still unclear as to what exactly caused the spacecraft to have an unsuccessful launch. However, the engine bay camera feed cut off shortly after one of the Starship’s engines relit for its landing sequence. Only parts of the debris from the destroyed SN11 Starship fell back onto the landing site.
In a series of Tweets, Elon Musk explains that the second engine had problems in both the ascent and landing burn, however, more details will be revealed once the SpaceX team has a chance to examine the fallen bits. Prior to this launch, SpaceX showed strong progress towards its initial goal to fly the Starship up to a high altitude of roughly 32,000 to 40,000 feet. According to TechCrunch, the Starship was intended to “execute a ‘belly flop’ maneuver and then bring it back to Earth with a controlled re-orientation to vertical, followed by a soft landing on its feet.” Previous models such as the SN10 were able to stay on the ground for 10 minutes before exploding due to fuel line breaks. With the SN11, the Starship was unable to make it back to the ground at all.
Check out Elon Musk’s tweets describing the situation below.
Looks like engine 2 had issues on ascent & didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed.
Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start. Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021
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