A prototype of Elon Musk owned SpaceX’s Starship exploded on landing. This is the second time when the prototype has crashed. It was named Starship serial number 9 or SN9. The prototype exploded on landing as the company conducted a high-altitude test flight in Cameron County, Texas. Starship is a heavy-lift launch vehicle. It is a fully reusable system. It is still under the development stage. According to a company statement, SN9 was powered by Raptor engines. All the three engines were shut down in sequence before the vehicle reached apogee. It said that the test involved flying the prototype approximately 10 km in altitude. SpaceX noted that SN9 marked the completion of the second high-altitude flight test.
SpaceX explained the reason why the prototype exploded on landing. It said that SN9 successfully performed a propellant transition before reorienting for making a re-entry and a controlled descent. The prototype descended under active aerodynamic control. The company said that all four flaps were actuated by a computer fitted in the flight. The computer successfully controlled SN’s attitude during flight. But one of the three Raptor engines of the prototype during the landing did not relight. This caused the prototype to land at a very high speed and caused an explosion.
Earlier in December 2020, another prototype of Starship had exploded on landing. The prototype was named Starship serial number 8 or SN8. The launch and ascent of the flight were successful. But the vehicle exploded on landing after the test flight. When the engines of the vehicle reignited for landing, it flipped back to vertical and exploded as it slammed into the ground. Musk says that Starship is a fully reusable vehicle. It can transport cargo and crew to the Earth’s orbit. Musk wants to use the system to send humans to Moon, Mars, and deep into space. According to Musk, SpaceX is working on a mission to make space tourism a reality and also launch an uncrewed flight to the Red Planet in the next two years. SpaceX has just announced the world’s first all-civilian mission to space later this year.