SpaceX Loses Another Prototype Rocket In Massive Explosion
After a number of failed attempts, any hopes that the most recent SpaceX prototype test would be successful quickly went up in flames when the rocket exploded.
Elon Musk’s company is also currently preparing for its first crewed flight for NASA, which is set to to place tonight, May 30, after a delay, but thankfully the exploding prototype is completely unrelated.
The test was for Starship, a next generation rocket SpaceX hopes to use to send people to deep space destinations like the moon and Mars.
Check out the moment the rocket exploded here:
The company has been working on various rocket prototypes at its work site in Boca Chica, Texas, with the latest put to the test on Friday, May 29.
Everything was going well until the company ignited the main Raptor engine for a test known as a static fire, which involves firing up the engine while holding the rocket in place, Live Science reports.
Shortly after the engine was ignited, a huge fireball engulfed the entire prototype, destroying much of the structure and apparently even causing damage to the test site.
Given that Starship is intended to carry humans, this was evidently not the result SpaceX had hoped to see.
The incident marks the fourth time a Starship prototype has failed, the first of which took place in November last year, when the rocket partially burst apart and sent gas and hardware into the air.
The second failure came during a pressure test in March, when the structure collapsed in on itself and launched up into the air before hitting the ground and breaking into pieces.
Third time was not the charm, as the rocket once again crumpled into itself during a similar pressure test which saw the structure filled with extremely cold propellant.
Yesterday’s prototype made it further through the testing process than its predecessors, but its reign came to an explosive end with the static fire.
SpaceX will no doubt persevere with the project, though CEO Musk told Aviation Week he had ‘redirected’ the company’s priorities to be focused on its crewed flight for the time being.
So that’s going to slow things down on the Starship front.
The manned flight to the International Space Station (ISS) was originally supposed to launch on Wednesday, but it was postponed due to poor weather at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
The event will mark the first time NASA has used a private company to transport one of its crews to orbit, and the first time the US has been able to launch its astronauts to the ISS since the retirement of Nasa’s space shuttles in 2011.
Hopefully the launch will go to plan and its success will motivate those in charge of constructing Starship prototypes to move on to the fifth – and maybe even final – rocket.
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CreditsAviation Week and 2 others