Blue Origin, the space company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, took another step toward launching people to the edge of space Wednesday with a test flight of its New Shepard booster and crew capsule over West Texas. “It’s time,” Bezos wrote on Instagram after the flight, suggesting Blue Origin plans to move forward with suborbital launches carrying human passengers above the atmosphere.
SpaceX’s latest Starship test flight apparently ended with another explosion Tuesday in South Texas, but dense fog obscured clear views of the launch and failed landing. The Federal Aviation Administration said late Tuesday it is working with SpaceX to determine if light debris reported in a nearby town came from the Starship test rocket.
SpaceX scrubbed the launch of its next Starship test rocket Friday afternoon, and the the next opportunity for the atmospheric test flight is now expected Tuesday. SpaceX plans to launch and land the rocket at company’s South Texas development complex after losing three previous prototypes in explosions.
The latest prototype of SpaceX’s Starship launch vehicle — Starship SN10 — took off from the company’s South Texas test site and flew to an altitude of more than 30,000 feet Wednesday, then descended to a controlled vertical landing after two previous test vehicles crashed at touchdown. Minutes later, the 16-story test rocket exploded in a fireball, but the test flight appeared to be a major step forward in the early stages of the Starship program.
SpaceX launched a prototype Starship rocket Tuesday from its Boca Chica, Texas, flight facility, successfully sending the silver booster up to an altitude of about six miles as planned. But the unpiloted test flight ended with a spectacular explosion when the rocket failed to right itself and slow down enough for a tail-first landing.
Starship completed a successful climb to approximately 10 kilometers altitude and then descended horizontally toward the landing site. It appeared to lose control as it was in the process of flipping back to a vertical position and exploded as it bellyflopped onto the landing pad. Watch a replay of the test flight.