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The Starship prototype launches. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's Starship prototype dubbed SN9 took flight from Texas on Tuesday for a test that ended in a fiery explosion after a successful launch.

Why it matters: The rocket is part of SpaceX's test program to build a space system that can transport people and payloads to deep space destinations like Mars.

Details: SN9 managed to make it up to its target altitude of about 10 kilometers after launch before flipping around and flying through the air sideways.

  • The prototype then flipped back in an attempt to land upright before exploding. The company's SN8 flight in December also ended in a fiery crash.
  • "We've just got to work on that landing a little bit," SpaceX's John Insprucker said during a webcast.

The intrigue: Space watchers have been waiting for this test for about a week, but it took until Monday night for the FAA to approve this most recent flight.

  • SpaceX violated its launch license during the SN8 test flight by exceeding the risk to the public allowed for the launch, leading leading to the FAA requiring SpaceX to conduct an investigation.
  • The results of that investigation were incorporated into the most recent test's launch license.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Feb 2, 2021 - Science

Billionaire battles are shaping our future in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon and SpaceX's scuffle about satellites shows how competitions between companies today are shaping humanity's future in space.

Why it matters: Billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are influencing the push for humans to settle the solar system — from a city on Mars to large space stations in orbit.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Feb 1, 2021 - Science

SpaceX flight will be the first all-civilian mission to space

A crewed SpaceX rocket streaks to orbit. Photo: SpaceX

Billionaire Jared Isaacman has effectively chartered a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule for the first all-civilian mission to orbit, expected to launch later this year.

Why it matters: The mission is ringing in a new era of commercial spaceflight, one where those with the means can make their orbital dreams a reality without involving government spacecraft.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 8 wounded

Police cars restrict access to Oxford High School following the shooting in Oxford, Michigan, on Tuesday. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

A 15-year-old sophomore was arrested after a shooting at a Michigan high school that left three people dead and eight others wounded Wednesday, according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The latest: Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a briefing Tuesday night that the suspect's father had on Friday bought the 9mm Sig Sauer pistol investigators believe was used in the shooting at Oxford High School. Authorities released the names of the victims late Tuesday.