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SpaceX Starship rocket explodes minutes after first successful landing

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In a classically spectacular fashion, a SpaceX Starship prototype has successfully touched down in one piece for the first time ever, only to explode minutes later after catching itself on fire.

Rolled from SpaceX Boca Chica Starship factory to test and launch facilities just a mile down the road on January 28th, Starship SN10 lifted off just five weeks later – the fastest factory-to-launch flow yet. The speed of that turnaround was mainly made possible thanks to an exceptionally smooth test campaign, passing cryogenic proof and static fire tests after only a few attempts.

Prior to its second launch attempt, Starship SN10 automatically aborted a few seconds prior to its first attempt after the rocket’s flight computer determined that its three Raptor engines were producing more thrust than expected. Within half an hour of the abort, CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to reveal the cause and stated that SpaceX would be tweaking the flight software’s thrust limits and recycling for another shot at launch around two hours later.

Starship SN10 became the first of its kind to touch down in one piece – but not for long. (SpaceX)


Up to the last 20 or so seconds of the 6.5-minute flight test, Starship SN10’s launch debut was virtually identical to Starships SN8 and SN9, both of which made it just one or two dozen seconds away from a soft landing. However, after SN9, SpaceX optimized the landing process to add additional redundancy, meaning that SN10 reignited all three of its Raptor engines – instead of just two – for its flip and landing burn.

Exactly as planned, SN10 fired up those engines, autonomously analyzed their performance, and then shut down two Raptors to leave the best-behaving engine to complete the final landing burn. Unlike SN8 and SN9, that maneuver went about as well as it could have, nearly slowing SN10 to a hover with one (seemingly) healthy engine to take it the rest of the way to the ground.


Unfortunately, SN10 only had a bit less than ten minutes to enjoy its incredible accomplishment, exploding around T+14:40 after a small fire spread. (NASASpaceflight)

SN10 touched down in one piece but remote firefighting hardware at the landing zone was ultimately unable to beat down an onboard fire that appeared to start during the Starship’s landing burn. Eventually, that fire somehow won out over Starship’s structure or pressure vessels, breaching its pressurized propellant tanks and triggering a massive explosion.

The post SpaceX Starship rocket explodes minutes after first successful landing appeared first on TESLARATI.

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