SpaceX Starship Prototype SN11 Explodes During Test Flight Amid Heavy Fog

Another Starship prototype exploded during the unmanned test flight amid heavy fog during an attempt to nail a tricky landing technique. However, SpaceX is yet to ascertain the exact cause behind the explosion. The SpaceX Starship SN11 prototype had a clean liftoff. Three Raptor engines took the Starship to an altitude of 10 km or 6 miles. This demonstrated that how SpaceX has excelled in the autonomous in-flight maneuvers of the rocket. This was the fourth high-altitude flight of SpaceX in the last four months. But unfortunately, it too met the same fate as all three previous prototypes. All the three prototypes either exploded shortly after landing or crash-landed.

The SN11 rocket was launched amid foggy weather from the Boca Chica facility of SpaceX in Texas. While reaching its peak altitude, the Starship performed various in-flight maneuvers. After attaining the peak height, all the three engines gradually shut down to initiate the free fall back to the earth. Just before the landing, one of the Raptors was scheduled to reignite to take it to the landing pad which not very far from the launching pad. At least, this was the idea that SpaceX was expected to be executed. But something happened after the landing burn start which led to the explosion in the Spaceship amid heavy fog.

“Just after landing burn start, something very significant happened,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the explosion. “We will get to know what exactly it was after examining the bits later today,” Musk said on microblogging site Twitter. Just a moment before the landing attempt the onboard camera feed froze. Feed provided by NASA Spaceflight showed large chunks of debris falling from space over Boca Chica facilities. However, the explosion was not clear because of fog. SpaceX’s John Insprucker said during the live stream that it was another exciting test. “The vehicle was lost in another attempt for a successful landing. It also appears that we have lost all the data from the vehicle. The team is of course away from the landing pad,” Insprucker said.

Jessica Walker