SpaceX SN9 Starship test ends in another fiery inferno

The craft hit the ground hard when it tried to slow its descent.


Another launch and another unsuccessful landing attempt by one of SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft. After a week of drama involving the FAA, SpaceX tested its latest Starship prototype, SN9, out of its Texas launch facility on Tuesday afternoon.

After the craft successfully lifted off and ascended to 10 kilometers above the surface of the planet, it ran into trouble. You can see where things go awry at around the 11:35 mark in the livestream. “We’re preparing to restart two engines, flip the vehicle vertical and then transition to one engine for the landing burn,” the person narrating the action says.

However, instead of staying vertical and slowing down its descent, SN9 belly flops and hits the ground hard. The fiery result not all that dissimilar from the SN8 launch in December, and the many unsuccessful Falcon 9 landings SpaceX had to attempt before it finally nailed one. After the success of its Crew Dragon capsule, SpaceX shifted its full attention to Starship partway through last year. The company hopes to one day use the super-heavy rocket to ferry people and cargo to Earth’s orbit and beyond.