The test launch and landing of a SpaceX Starship prototype Tuesday ended
in a crash for the second time since December.
The bullet-shaped 50-meter-tall SN-9 Starship rocket, a product of
entrepreneur Elon Musk’s private space company, lifted off as planned
from the southern Texas launch site and traveled 10 kilometers into the
sky before making its descent for a planned soft landing back on the
spacecraft failed to return to a vertical position before reaching the
ground and exploded on impact. The December test flight ended the same
way. The next SpaceX prototype, the SN-10, stood on a launch pad near
the crash site but was apparently undamaged. The company did not say
when that test launch will be scheduled.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that it would
investigate Tuesday's explosion, fueling tension between the agency and
The FAA had investigated last year’s launch, saying it did not meet
public safety standards, but approved Tuesday's test after what it
called "corrective actions."
The Starship is intended to carry people to the moon and Mars, perhaps
in the coming years.