SpaceX Vehicle Starship Number 9 Explodes on Landing in Boca Chica

SN9 crash landed at SpaceX' Boca Chica facility - Courtesy SpaceX

Starship Number 9 did not survive a hard landing following a successful launch Tuesday from the SpaceX complex in Boca Chica  Texas.

SpaceX, a frontrunner in commercial space exploration continues to push the boundaries when it comes to launch and recovery.

The company is testing Starship launch and landings and Tuesday’s launch follows the test and crash landing of SN8 last December.

Starship 9 about to land - Courtesy NASA Spaceflight
Starship 9 preps for hard landing in Boca Chica, Texas – Courtesy NASA Spaceflight

Indicators are an engine malfunction caused issues with the SN9 landing. The intent was to restart two engines flip the vehicle vertical and transition to a single engine for the landing burn.

If problems were caused by an engine failure, it is believed a test flight for SN10 may come sooner rather than later. SpaceX faced license issues with the FAA related to SN9, delaying the launch.

SN9 hard landing at Boca Chica - Courtesy NASA Spaceflight
SN9 hard landing at Boca Chica – Courtesy NASA Spaceflight

SN10, which is on the launch pad in proximity to where SN9 returned to Earth, appeared unharmed following the crash.

The Raptor engine is a reusable methalox staged-combustion engine that powers the Starship launch system. Raptor engines began flight testing on the Starship prototype rockets in July 2019, becoming the first full-flow staged combustion rocket engine ever flown.

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