The first time Anthony Gomez saw one of SpaceX’s Starship prototypes take flight, he watched it on a projector. He was far away from the humid Texas coast, where the actual launch was taking place. Instead, he was sitting in his house in Florida with his girlfriend.

On the wall of his home, Anthony admired the Starship rocket as it careened through the sky. All three of the Raptor engines cut off when the spaceship reached an altitude of roughly 41,000 feet, and the massive steel vessel began to plummet back to Earth, pitched over on its side, looking like a grain silo in free fall. Just before reaching the landing pad, its engines reignited, and the vehicle rapidly turned upright again as it prepared to touch down. But the spacecraft came down too fast, hitting the ground hard and bursting apart in a massive explosion. Afterward, only a charred patch of Earth remained where Starship once stood — a disappointment.

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