The second orbital test of SpaceX’s Super Heavy launch vehicle and Starship spacecraft again ended in an explosion. This time, however, both the launch vehicle and the ship performed much better than in April 2023.
During the second test, all first-stage engines worked without failure and the Super Heavy separated from the Starship and began its descent to land. When re-ignited, not all Super Heavy engines started working, so the automation shut down the engines and blew up the launch vehicle. This happened 200 seconds into the flight at an altitude of 90 km.
In turn, all Starship engines worked normally until the end of fuel, but after that the ship also exploded, most likely due to the automation. This happened at 488 seconds of flight at an altitude of 148 km. The Starship’s speed at that moment was 6.7 km/s, which is not enough to enter Earth orbit.
Overall, given the much better flight performance and stability of the launch vehicle and spacecraft during takeoff, this test can be considered a success. SpaceX is expected to announce the reasons for the premature abort later.