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SpaceX flies, crashes Starship moon rocket again
by Paul Brinkmann
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 2, 2021

SpaceX's test flight of the company's deep-space Starship rocket ended for a second time in a fiery explosion on the landing pad Tuesday in Boca Chica, Texas, after the Federal Aviation Administration modified the company's license to allow the launch.

The rocket, named SN9, ascended to a height of more than 6 miles and performed a flip manuever. But after it descended, its engines appeared to ignite improperly, according to live video SpaceX provided.

The explosion is not necessarily a setback because the company is gathering data about the craft as it tests, said John Insprucker, the principal engineer at SpaceX, during the broadcast. SpaceX is known for losing rockets during early testing as it explores new designs.

"We've done a lot of good things. We just got to work on that landing a little bit," Insprucker said.

The FAA disclosed Tuesday that a similar Starship test flight in December had violated the company's license and hadn't been approved.

"Prior to the Starship ... test launch in December 2020, SpaceX sought a waiver to exceed the maximum public risk allowed by federal safety regulations. After the FAA denied the request, SpaceX proceeded with the flight," a statement from the agency said.

Since then, SpaceX investigated the decision to fly in December and agreed to corrective actions, but the FAA didn't immediately say what those actions were.

The December test also ended in a fireball as the rocket, SN8, crashed on the landing pad. The company didn't promise a safe landing Tuesday, but it said SN9 would make "a controlled aerodynamic descent" and touch down on the landing pad.

Such a controlled descent is "critical to landing Starship at destinations across the solar system where prepared surfaces or runways do not exist," according to SpaceX's description of the test.

Although SpaceX is known for Falcon 9 rockets taking supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station, the company always had a bigger goal: travel to Mars.

SpaceX also intends to develop a version of Starship for a moon landing in the next few years as part of NASA's Artemis program.

Starship's Raptor engines, which also being developed, run on "methalox" -- rocket fuel composed of liquid oxygen oxidizer and explosive liquid methane.

Related Links
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

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NASA proceeds with plans for second hot fire test
by Jennifer Harbaugh for NASA Blogs
Bay St. Louis MS (SPX) Feb 01, 2021 NASA plans to conduct a second Green Run hot fire test as early as the fourth week in February with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket's core stage that will launch the Artemis I mission to the Moon. The Green Run is a comprehensive assessment of the rocket's core stage prior to launching Artemis missions. While the first hot fire test marked a major milestone for the program with the firing of all four RS-25 engines together for the first time for about a mi ... read more

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