'Got to work on that landing': SpaceX rocket in fiery crash, again

Katie Ramirez
February 3, 2021

Starship prototype Serial Number 9 attempts to land in Texas.

SpaceX had asked to exceed the maximum public risk allowed by USA regulations for the December 9 test, the Federal Aviation Administration said in an email Tuesday.

According to Mary (aka BocaChicaGal), one of a handful of remaining Boca Chica Village residents, SpaceX has asked the villagers to evacuate for an SN9 launch attempt as early as Tuesday afternoon (CST/UTC-6).

The Starship is a 16-story-tall space vehicle that SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes to use to send humans from the moon to Mars for the first time.

"And again, we've just got to work on that landing a little bit", he added, emphasizing that the launch was a test flight.

As it neared the pad, Starship flipped back to the vertical and ignited its engines.

"We demonstrated the ability to transition the engines to the landing propellant tanks, the subsonic reentry looked very good and stable", Insprucker said.

Another person said: "I was seriously expecting @elonmusk to pull a fast one, and launch SN10 immediately after SN9 crashed". After previously declining to comment on its investigation, which was first reported by The Verge, the FAA said Tuesday that it concluded this week that SpaceX took "corrective action" and is now complying with public safety rules.

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The SN9 was ready to launch last week, but had to wait for FAA clearance - without which SpaceX scrubbed launches earlier this week.

Ahead of today's flight, SpaceX outlined its plans to fly "approximately 10km" in altitude, with SN9 powered through its ascent by three Raptor engines, each "shutting down in sequence prior to the vehicle reaching apogee".

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who used Twitter to publicly bash the FAA last week, wrote Tuesday morning that he would be "Off Twitter for a while".

SpaceX had sought a waiver to exceed the maximum allowable risk to the public of Starship SN8. The agency turned down the request, but the company proceeded anyway, the FAA said.

The development test flight was meant to put the current prototype through similar steps as the December test, with the SN9's three rocket engines successfully conducting a phased shutdown to reach an altitude of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).

SpaceX already had yet another Starship prototype, SN10, assembled.

When SN8 touched down on the launch pad, it ignited in flames - and, once the fire and smoke had cleared, all that was left was a pile of debris topped by what remained of the craft's nose cone.

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