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SpaceX loses another Starship prototype during failed landing

Bad weather left questions about the failed attempt as fog blanketed the public's ability to clearly view the flight.
Credit: SpaceX feed

CAMERON COUNTY, Texas — UPDATE 3: While the specifics remain unclear, SpaceX's latest attempt of a high-altitude flight test of its Starship prototype did fail.

Founder and CEO, Elon Musk said it appears that engine two "had issues" on the ascent and did not reach operating chamber pressure during the landing burn. But according to Musk that doesn't appear to be the issue. 

"Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start. Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today," he tweeted. 

Space lovers watching the feed witnessed it freeze at the 5:49 minute mark of the flight attempt before an announcement was made that it was "another exciting test of Starship number 11."

While the space company has not confirmed what exactly went wrong, it did share that all vehicle data was lost during Tuesday's attempt.

NASA SpaceFlight, which covers launches, captured a loud booming-like noise on one of its cameras as debris flew through the foggy air. 

Either way, SpaceX will continue pushing forward on the project with SN15 set to roll out to the launch pad in a few days. Musk says it has hundreds of design improvements from past models. 

"Hopefully, one of those improvements covers this problem. If not, then retrofit will add a few more days," he tweeted.

UPDATE 2: Monday's reschedule of a scrubbed flight attempt for SN11 has met the same fate. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk says the latest scrub was due to an FAA inspector's inability to reach Starbase in time for today's launch. 

The company will now aim for a Tuesday attempt of the high-altitude flight test of its Starship prototype.

UPDATE: Friday's test has been scrubbed. An immediate cause for the halting of the company's latest flight test is not yet known.

Previous story below:

SpaceX will attempt another high-altitude flight test of its Starship prototype Friday. SN11 would mark the company's fourth test of the prototype that hopes to eventually complete Mars missions.

The launch window for SN11 has been cleared to take place at the company's Cameron County, Texas site anytime before 7:30 p.m. CDT.

The latest launch follows the near-perfect landing of the SN10 prototype earlier in March. While the company was able to stick the landing, the spacecraft exploded on the landing pad minutes after the flight test.

Explosive landings have become common for SpaceX's model. The SN8 prototype last December and the SN9 prototype earlier this year both ended in fiery explosions. Both attempts were still considered to be successful by SpaceX due to the data collected.

Like prototypes in the past, SN11 will attempt to lift off the pad, hover above the ground for several minutes and then cut off its Raptor engines for descent. The goal is then to reignite its engines and reorient itself to attempt a vertical landing.

Friday's test will see Starship reach approximately 6 miles in altitude.

"A controlled aerodynamic descent with body flaps and vertical landing capability, combined with in-space refilling, are critical to landing Starship at destinations across the solar system where prepared surfaces or runways do not exist, and returning to Earth," SpaceX wrote.

Once perfected, Starship is intended to be a "fully reuseable" transportation system that aims to carry both crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond, according to SpaceX.

You can catch the flight test live here.

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