SpaceX today launched a prototype Starship spacecraft for the so-called high-altitude test. SN9 was supposed to climb to an altitude of about 10 km, and then turn around, head down and land. Everything went as planned until the very last moment.
For a more effective reduction in speed, the Starship returns to the ground with its “belly”, and just before landing with the help of several engines it levels and takes a vertical position. It was at this stage that some problem happened, which did not allow one of the engines to work in full measure: SN9 first became vertical, and then continued to deviate from the vertical and, as a result, just fell to the ground and exploded. Moreover, this happened next to another prototype – SN10, but that still did not suffer.
This is the second consecutive launch of the Starship prototype, culminating in an explosion upon landing. Probably, these falls have different reasons (in December they indicated a high speed upon landing, now, perhaps, one of the engines stabilizing the rocket is to blame), but they ended equally sadly – and something needs to be done about it. SpaceX has yet to say when the SN10 will launch, but the company clearly won’t hesitate. Before that, you need to analyze all the data and finally make Starship land correctly and safely.