Foggy SpaceX launch ends in explosion

By Gaige Davila 

An unusually early launch at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility ended in flames after the most recent Starship prototype exploded before landing. 

In its fourth high-altitude test flight, Starship SN11 launched at 8 a.m. on Mar. 30. Around six minutes later, before the spacecraft had a chance to land, fire illuminated the fog blanketing Boca Chica, cloaking SN11’s explosion. 

“Looks like engine 2 had issues on ascent & didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted to Twitter after the launch. “Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start. Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today.”

The launch was scrubbed four days prior, on Friday Mar. 26, then again on Monday, Mar. 29, because a Federal Aviation Administration inspector was not on site, Musk posted to Twitter on Monday.

All three previous test flights for SN11 have exploded upon landing, the last several minutes after the spacecraft landed upright. 

SpaceX’s next project will be SN15, abandoning Starships SN12, SN13 and SN14 altogether.

 Musk posted to Twitter shortly after SN11’s launch that he was donating $20 million to Cameron County schools and another $10 million to the City of Brownsville for “downtown revitalization,” saying more details on the donations would be posted next week. 

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