SpaceX suffered another setback after the Starship SN11 blew to smithereens when the prototype rocket came crashing into the launch pad at Boca Chica, South Texas. The CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk has revealed that “something significant” must have happened just before the incident.
SN11 is the fourth prototype of the rocket to be destroyed at Boca Chica. The rocket launched on Tuesday, March 30, under a heavy blanket of fog, carrying to an altitude of 32,000ft (10km) while watching fans of SpaceX’s live stream of the test flight had no idea what was going on.
Conditions failed to improve on the way down as SpaceX’s stream cut out just five minutes and 49 seconds into the flight. The frozen stream made it difficult to ascertain what happened when the rocket crashed into the launch pad. However, Elon Musk took to Twitter shortly after the incident, to speculate about what happened.
The South African billionaire suggested that one of the rocket’s engines suffered on the way up, stating that some other “significant” issue prevented it from sticking to the landing. “Looks like engine two had issues on ascent and didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed,” Musk tweeted.
“Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start. Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today,” he continued.
In another tweet, he added that SpaceX will “report conclusions as soon as we know them.“
Regardless of the cause of the incident, the obvious fact remains that the rocket did not miss the launch pad despite the unfavorable weather conditions, a feat achieved due to the radar-based landing systems of SN11.
Mr. Musk said in a humorous tweet: “At least the crater is in the right place,” and went ahead to give some insight into the next Starship launch.
The Starship SN15 is the next model to fly. However, SpaceX has to clear the launch pad from the debris and repair any damage to the facility. Considering SpaceX’s launch schedule so far, it seems plausible the SN15 will be ready to fly before the end of April.
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