Starship SN11 Explodes & Crashes During Landing Maneuver

SpaceX launched its Starship SN11 prototype from Boca Chica on Tuesday morning, only to see the vehicle crash like its predecessors SN8, SN9 and SN10.

It is not entirely clear what precisely went wrong because the vehicle was launched in a thick fog that enveloped the coastal launch site in south Texas.

Using onboard cameras, SpaceX’s website showed SN11 reaching 10 km as it gradually shut off all three engines. It then glided down to an altitude of 1 km, at which time SN11 began to restart one of its engines and to pivot for a landing.

At 5:49 into the flight, the feed from the onboard camera froze. This was followed by the sound of what appeared to be an explosion and vehicle parts crashing to the ground.

“We do appear to have lost all data from the vehicle,” said John Insprucker, who anchored SpaceX’s webcast of the test. “We’re going to have to find out from the team what happened.”

Insprucker ended the webcast a short time later without providing any further details. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted, ‘At least the crater is in the right place!”

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

The next vehicle will be called SN15. As part of SpaceX’s rapid prototyping approach, SN12 through SN14 have been skipped.