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SpaceX has finally launched the Starship Serial Number (SN9) after a month of delays, aborts and regulatory battles. Starship took off from its South Texas launchpad with a loud roar from its three Raptor engines. The prototype spacecraft launched to a height of 6.2 miles (10km) after which it came plunging to the ground.
In a daring manoeuvre only attempted once before by Starship SN8, SN9 flipped to its side and fell to the ground belly-side down.
The so-called belly flop is an attempt at controlled descent using nothing but the four flaps mounted on Starship’s sides.
Falling to the ground sideways also allows SN9 to bleed speed without having to burn its engines until the very last few seconds.
Starship will pull off the same manoeuvre when the finished spacecraft makes its first trip to Mars.
SpaceX fans have been dying to see the present iteration of Starship take to the skies after the crash landing of SN8 in December last year.
Unfortunately, Starship has failed to stick the landing after it appeared to lose control just before it reached the ground.
Seconds before crashing, some debris appeared to break off from the rocket.
SN9 then crashed into the ground and was blown to smithereens.
According to NASASpaceFlight, one of Starship’s Raptor engines struggled to ignite just before the hard landing.
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SpaceX fans have flooded social media after the fiery crash landing.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted: “Spaceflight is hard. So are landings. Great test flight, @SpaceX!”
Another person said: “I was seriously expecting @elonmusk to pull a fast one, and launch SN10 immediately after SN9 crashed. You know, for dramatic effect…”
And a third person said: “A bit too light on the power the first time, a wild swing this time, looks like an engine didn’t relight to stabilize it. I bet they get it next time.”
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