Just before landing, the prototype named SN10 completed a high-altitude test flight in Texas. Initially, nothing seemed to be wrong with the plan. The prototype even showcased some skillful and careful movements in the air, before carrying out a proper and safe landing onto the pad. Despite landing safely, the ship exploded around eight minutes later.
A video clip of this test flight shows the crowd cheering and rejoicing at the seemingly successful landing. However, their celebrations are short-lived as the ship blows up after a while.
Being on the lookout for the landing process of the prototype, SpaceX frontman Elon Musk initially tweeted:
Starship SN10 landed in one piece! https://t.co/lO4AF47MaN
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 4, 2021
However, after the explosion, Musk again wrote: “RIP SN10, honorable discharge”.
Although this might come as a surprise to many people, SpaceX is surely elated with the result. Out of all the test flights, SN10 was the very first prototype that successfully accomplished all of its expected operations, although the landing wasn’t perfect. Therefore, regardless of the minor mishap, Musk conveyed his approval and admiration for the SpaceX team, stating that the SpaceX team is doing great work. He also expressed his hopes for the future, writing: “One day, the true measure of success will be that Starship flights are commonplace.”
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This wasn’t the first time that the world witnessed a starship ending up in flames. Before SN10, two other starships exploded while landing; SN8 in December 2020, and SN9 in February 2021.
John Insprucker is the principal integration engineer at SpaceX. Regarding the SN9 explosion, he stated that although the flight was great, and many good data on flap control are available, the landing should be improved.
Many Twitter users attempted to speculate the reason for the explosion. One user wrote: “Looks like it was turned, and not vertical as it attempted the landing”. Another stated that the starship seems to come down too fast, and the landing starts too late.
Whatever the reason for the explosion is, overall, the test flight was a success. So, take a look at the pics above and share your thoughts with us in the comments!