SpaceX’s Latest Starship Prototype Spontaneously Falls Over on Assembly Stand

Luckily there was a vehicle assembly building there to catch the rocket from falling to the ground.
Loukia Papadopoulos

SpaceX suffered a minor inconvenience Friday morning with its latest Starship prototype. Starship Serial Number 9 (SN9) was ready to go at the firm's Boca Chica testing facility when strong gusts caused the rocket's fairing to lean to the side, reported The Daily Mail.


Reports stated that the incident was caused by the stand holding up the craft collapsing but no information has been confirmed. Luckily, from the video acquired of the event, it seems there was a vehicle assembly building beside it to catch the rocket's fairing from falling further.

Just three days prior, the SN8 prototype conducted its first high-altitude flight at 41,000 feet (12.5 km) that saw the rocket explode on landing. 

SN8's fuel header tank pressure was low, causing the touchdown velocity to be too high, leading to a fireball. Still, it marked a major leap for the aircraft designed to bring humans to Mars for the first time ever.

This was the first time SpaceX flew Starship at a high altitude. Earlier test flights had only taken Starship prototype vehicles roughly 492 ft (150 mt) high. These prototypes lacked the nose cone, flaps, or other signature features required to control the vehicle's flight in the thin air of the upper layers of our atmosphere.

"Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed!" tweeted at the time of the SN8 crash SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. "Congrats SpaceX!"

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"Mars, here we come!!!" read another tweet from Musk.

Clearly, the mission was still deemed a success as SN8 did reach its targeted altitude and collected enough data to improve SN9's path. What does the future hold for SN9? Hopefully a smooth successful mission.

SpaceX has built 10 Starship prototypes and SN9 was developed in parallel to SN8 in order to build "successive generations of prototypes rapidly so they can test and iterate quickly," said Musk according to The Daily Mail.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article stated that the rocket fell apart. This was misleading as the rocket merely leaned over as new findings highlighted. IE regrets this error.

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