SpaceX’s latest Starship prototype launched on Tuesday, soaring miles above its South Texas facilities in a successful flight demonstration before exploding during the landing attempt. It’s the second failed landing in a row, after a previous prototype, SN8, launched and failed to stick the landing in December.
This week’s launch demo — one of many in the books already — follows weeks of tension between SpaceX and the Federal Aviation Administration, which approves test launches like this one. During its high-altitude test launch with SN8 two months ago, the company violated its FAA launch license. This triggered an investigation that held up today’s SN9 flight and frustrated SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, The Verge reported last week.