The SN10 rocket launched triumphantly- then exploded into flames.
On Wednesday, March 3rd at 5:15 CT, SpaceX successfully launched its SN10 (Starship) rocket prototype into the atmosphere of South Texas. Three minutes after landing, it exploded. The launch, originally scheduled for 3pm, was delayed due to last minute adjustments to the pre-set standards to the rocket’s thrust. The SN10 took off and climbed 6 miles into the atmosphere before safely landing on the pad, demonstrating a successful launch. The feed cut, and three minutes later, the rocket lifted off the pad and exploded.
The cause is still being investigated, but according to CNN, “It was unclear what caused the rocket to explode after landing, and the SpaceX livestream cut out before the conflagration.” Others said that the propellant tank was compromised, i.e. exploded.
SpaceX’s launch of SN10 sought to test out a new landing method; the New York Times reports, “The Starship then tipped over to a horizontal position, in essence belly flopping through the atmosphere in a controlled fall back toward the ground. The rocket then fired its engines again to flip back into a vertical position and slowed down to a gentle landing.”
The new method is to be used in future projects with NASA in an attempt to create reusable transportation, but Wednesday’s test was to gather more data about the control of the rocket during the descent back to Earth. With improved technologies, avenues such as space tourism may open. Musk himself states that he anticipates the Starships to be regularly launched by 2025.
As some of AHS students chose to descend into the realm of engineering and sciences, it is important to remember that failure is the lifeblood of innovation. How we chose to persevere here on the ground or up in the air determines our ability to show the world that impossibility is finite.