The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that it will oversee the investigation into Tuesday’s “landing accident” involving SpaceX’s Starship SN9 prototype rocket.
The SN9 spacecraft crashed on Tuesday during a fiery test flight, which exploded near the launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas, falling from the sky and catching fire before disintegrating on the surface.
“Although this is an unmanned test flight, the investigation will identify the root cause of today’s crash and possible opportunities to further improve safety as the program grows. “, added an FAA spokesperson.
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Video shows the rocket fail to stabilize as it struggles to return to the landing pad, entering violently and twisted to explode as it collapses back to the ground.
“We had a great flight again until the 10 kilometer climax, we demonstrated the ability to switch the engines to the landing propellant tanks … we just need to work a bit on that landing”, SpaceX engineer John Insprucker said during a 15-minute live broadcast of the launch. “And a reminder, this is a test flight – the second time we have flown Starship in this configuration. We have a lot of data. “
The explosion occurs approximately 12 minutes and 50 seconds in the stream. The impact carries a massive bang and sends a huge cloud of dust and smoke skyward.
“We will be back with another ship in the near future,” Insprucker added.
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Another test flight in December yielded similar results – the rocket stabilizing on its return but falling too fast and exploding on the launch pad. The Federal Aviation Administration said earlier this week that SpaceX performed this test without permission, violating its launch license.
The FAA told FOX Business the agency asked SpaceX to conduct an investigation into the Decmeber incident involving SpaceX’s Starship SN8, including a “full review of the company’s safety culture, operational decision making and process discipline.
“All testing that could affect public safety at the Boca Chica launch site has been suspended until the investigation is completed and the FAA has approved the company’s corrective actions,” the company said. FAA.
The FAA noted that the corrective measures were incorporated into the launch of SN9 on Tuesday and that it plans to “take no further enforcement action on the SN8 issue.”
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The Starship is a 16-story space vehicle that SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes to use to send humans from the moon to Mars for the first time.
The rocket should be a reusable vehicle.
The successor to the SN9, the SN10 Starship, is said to be nearing completion.