The current prototype of SpaceX’s next-gen Starship rocket dramatically exploded on impact during its experimental test flight’s attempted landing. SpaceX Starship prototype Serial Number 9 (SN9) successfully archived its 32,800ft (10km) altitude target, almost marching December’s SN8 test. However, despite the prototype’s flight initially going according to plan, SN9 proceeding to explosively slam into the ground on its return, echoing SN8’s fate last year.
John Insprucker, SpaceX principal integration engineer, said in the company’s live stream: “We had, again, another great flight up … we’ve just got to work on that landing a little bit”.
The SpaceX commentator later added: “Reminder – this is a test flight.”
However, the event was praised by both experts for the progress made and onlookers for the cinematic explosion.
Professional spaceflight photographer John Kraus tweeted from the scene: “One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen with my own eyes.”
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SpaceX tried and failed to launch Starship last week, after not succeeding in obtaining the required approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
A spokesperson said: “The FAA will not compromise its responsibility to protect public safety.
“We will approve the modification only after we are satisfied that SpaceX has taken the necessary steps to comply with regulatory requirements.”
However, controversial billionaire Elon Musk was clearly unhappy with the FAA’s decision.
He tweeted on Friday, January 28: “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.”
SpaceX’s first all-civilian space flight is still slated to take place later this year.
This will also serve as a fundraising opportunity for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which expects to generate $200 million (£146 million) for causes including cancer research.
Jared Isaacman, the billionaire businessman who will finance and pilot the multi-day mission for himself and three others, will drive the publicity push with an impending Super Bowl advert.
Anyone 18 or older can, until the end of the month, head to St Jude’s website to enter for a chance to win a seat onboard.