At 8 AM EST, SN11 lifted off in Boca Chica Village, Texas for a high-altitude test flight.
The test flight was supposed to happen on Friday, March 25 but was pushed back to Monday only to be postponed again to Tuesday morning. An intense fog blanketed Starbase as lift off drew closer. This made it impossible to get a good view of the rocket before takeoff.
According to Space.com, the rocket reached an altitude of over 6 miles before performing the flip maneuver. After the flip, more problems arose. 6 minutes into the flight attempt, the cameras on SN11 kept freezing. One of the cameras froze for about 5 minutes during the flight. Shortly after, SpaceX’s principal integration engineer, John Insprucker, announced that the test flight was over and that SN11 did not survive.
“The frozen view we saw in the camera doesn’t mean that we’re waiting for the signal to come back; Starship 11 is not coming back. Don’t wait for the landing,” and that, “We do appear to have lost all the data from the vehicle and the team of course is away from the landing pad, so we’ll be out there seeing what we had.”
It is unclear what caused SN11 to malfunction. A lack of visibility due to the fog does not help either. Elon Musk tweeted out that an examination of the remnants of the rocket will hopefully determine what happened.
Looks like engine 2 had issues on ascent & didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed.
Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start. Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021
CNN writes that people who were streaming the event were not able to get a good video of SN11 during its ascent. NASA Spaceflight noted that the debris could be the reason that the cameras were not working.
For now, the cause of SN11’s destruction remains a mystery.