On March 30, SpaceX unveiled its fourth Starship concept in fewer than 4 months, only for the spacecraft to crash again. The Starship SN11 spacecraft took off from the firm’s Boca Chica, Texas, the testing facility, at about 9 a.m. Eastern, amid thick fog that made it virtually difficult to see the vehicle climb. The video from onboard cameras was included in the SpaceX Livestream of the ride.
The flight seemed to go according to schedule initially, with the vehicle ascending to a height of 10 kilometres before returning to the landing platform. However, the vehicle’s onboard recording came to a halt 5 minutes and 49 seconds after takeoff, just as the Raptor engines were re-ignited for landing.
A few minutes after the video was lost, SpaceX’s John Insprucker stated on the Livestream, “It seems like we have had another thrilling exam.” “We’ll have to figure out what occurred from the group.” He did not report that the aircraft had gone missing, but footage from the landing shows objects falling across the evaluation site at the moment of landing. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, later admitted that the spacecraft had been killed, tweeting, “At least crater is in the correct place!”
“It seems that engine 2 had problems on the ascent and did not achieve operating chamber pressure throughout the landing fire, but it wasn’t required in theory,” he said. “Shortly after the landing burn began, something important occurred. When we can study the pieces later today, we’ll realize what it was.”
Since early December, a Starship concept has traveled to an elevation of 10 kilometers or even four times. Both four of those planes were lost in the air or immediately after landing. The prior examination on March 3 of Starship SN10 managed to land intact before exploding fewer than ten minutes later.
Since an FAA safety investigator could not enter Boca Chica until the evaluation window closed, the flight was postponed a day. An FAA examiner must be present at Boca Chica for the examinations, according to a March 12 modification to the FAA’s permit for that set of Starship tests.
After SpaceX breached terms of its deployment license on the SN8 flight test in December, also after the FAA rejected SpaceX’s appeal for a waiver for full allowable danger to the uninvolved public, the FAA introduced the clause. About the fact that the flight did not harm outside of SpaceX’s test site, the FAA demanded an inquiry and postponed clearance of the next flight test, SN9, until early February.