The latest test of Starship – and the SN11 version that SpaceX had hoped would fly up in the air and then land safely on the ground – appeared to have been a failure, though it was not at all clear what had happened.
Official video was streaming from a camera onboard the Starship itself and froze and then the company brought its stream to an end.
SpaceX’s commentator on the stream said that the company appeared to have lost all the data from the vehicle, suggesting that it had been entirely destroyed by whatever impact happened.
Large chunks of smoking debris were seen falling some distance from the launchpad.
In recent tests, the craft came back to Earth and exploded on its launchpad, during and then soon after the landing. The SN11 test would have been the first that didn’t end in “rapid unscheduled disassembly”, as SpaceX refers to crashes.
But SN11 appeared to have potentially blown up while it was still in the air and on its way back to the launchpad.
Thick fog meant that it was not clear what had happened to the craft. Videos taken from the ground by people watching the launch only showed pieces of debris falling from what appeared to be an explosion, possibly in the air.
Cameras and equipment that were set up by external companies – including NASASpaceflight and Everyday Astronaut – appeared to have been damaged in the blast.
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