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SpaceX aims to nail landing on flight of moonship that exploded on last 3 tries

SpaceX completed the first upright landing of the company's deep-space Starship rocket, SN-10, after a test flight March 3, but the vehicle exploded minutes later. Photo courtesy of SpaceX
SpaceX completed the first upright landing of the company's deep-space Starship rocket, SN-10, after a test flight March 3, but the vehicle exploded minutes later. Photo courtesy of SpaceX
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March 26 (UPI) -- SpaceX plans another attempt to fly and land the company's Starship moon and Mars rocket as early as Monday from Boca Chica, Texas.

The rocket company had filed for "no-fly" notices during daylight hours from Friday through Monday around the SpaceX launch facility in the community about 180 miles south of Corpus Christi.

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SpaceX postponed an attempt Friday, with company CEO Elon Musk tweeting, "Standing down ... until probably Monday. Additional checkouts are needed. Doing our best to land & fully recover."

Previous test flights of the giant, stainless steel rocket ended in fireballs in December, February and March. The tests are part of SpaceX's rapid prototype development methods, which the company used to develop its highly successful Falcon rockets.

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Starship is one of three spacecraft NASA has chosen as possible means to send astronauts back to the moon this decade. The space agency intends to choose two proposals for those crewed lunar missions by mid-2021.

The other two lunar lander contenders are Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Moon lander and a craft under development by Huntsville, Ala.-based Dynetics.

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Dynetics' lander and Blue Moon would launch atop rockets under development, according to the companies involved. Those rockets would be United Launch Alliance's planned Vulcan and Bezos' New Glenn, which is under development by his space company Blue Origin.

SpaceX has entered the lunar competition with Starship as the only contestant planning a rocket and lander combination. To get to the moon, Starship would be launched atop an even larger booster, the Starship Super Heavy, which also is in prototype development in Texas.

"SN11 almost ready to fly," company founder Elon Musk said on Twitter on March 16, more than a week before the public notices. SN11 refers to Serial Number 11 or Starship Number 11 for the 11th such prototype built.

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As with previous test flights, SpaceX plans to send Starship over 6 miles high before its three Raptor engines cut off and it glides downward.

After performing a flip maneuver, the rocket will attempt to restart the engines and land upright as it did earlier this month -- but without the subsequent explosion.

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NASA, SpaceX complete historic first mission to space station

Support teams work around the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft shortly after it landed with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard in the Gulf of Mexico off Panama City, Fla., on Sunday. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

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