By now many readers are familiar with SpaceX’s Starship tests. The rocket makes its way skyward and performs maneuvers that seem like impossibilities to a generation raised on rockets that simply shot things to orbit. These maneuvers are followed by an ungainly looking float towards the Earth below, which ends in a sudden lurch as the rocket struggles to a vertical orientation and tries to lose speed.
In general, this has been followed by a dramatic explosion as one aspect or another of the incredibly complex series of events required doesn’t work quite right. The biggest exception was one case where that explosion waited for several minutes after its landing.
Today’s launch followed the script right up to the landing, at which point everything changed. The landing went off without a hitch this time, and the hardware stayed intact—albeit on fire—well after the landing.