While SpaceX has been celebrating its weekend launch of NASA astronauts into space from the U.S. for the first time since 2011, and also had a successful Starlink launch on Wednesday, at least one of its test vehicles for the future Starship program went up in flames last week.
The explosion of the Starship prototype took place on May 29 at the company’s testing facility in Boca Chica, Texas, although an explosion on a test pad is not unexpected.
The YouTube channel of Everyday Astronaut posted video of the incident in slow motion.
“Unfortunately what we thought was going to be a minor test of a quick disconnect ended up being a big problem,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said to Reuters reporter Joey Roulette on May 30 while leaving the press site at Kennedy Space Center after the launch of the Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station.
The explosion happened at the conclusion of what was a successful static fire of a Raptor engine on the prototype, according to website Teslarati.com. The website reported a liquid methane leak at the base of the Starship rocket led to the explosion.
The test vehcle, SN4, was destroyed, and the company has already cleared the debris from the testing pad, Teslarati reported. Its successor, SN5, though, is nearly ready for testing, although a new testing stand will need to be constructed.
In 2019, Musk laid out the company’s plans for the next-generation space vehicle, originally hoping to get an orbital test launch by this spring.
“Well I think we could potentially see people flying next year,” Musk said at a September speech at the Texas testing site. “If we get to orbit in about six months and it’s designed to be a reusable rocket – so a reusable booster, a reusable ship – so we can do many flights to prove out the reliability very quickly.”
The end goal is part of SpaceX’s grand plan to send the SpaceX fleet of Starships to other planets including the moon and Mars. NASA has since contracted with SpaceX among other companies to develop a version of Starship for lunar landings.
Read more at Teslarati.com.
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