Starship prototype exploded during testing. Again

Starship prototype explosion. Source: Boca Chica Gal / NASA SpaceFlight

On the night of February 28-29. during a test refueling with liquid nitrogen, the SpaceX Starship prototype exploded. This is the second destroyed prototype of Starship. The first exploded during pressure tests in 2019.

Starship SN1, because that was the name of the last prototype of the ship, eventually Starship was to be the first to fly about 20 km high. Recently, however, Elon Musk announced that SN1 will be used only for static tests with one Raptor engine attached, and only its successor SN2 will soar into the air.

Unfortunately, static tests of this particular rocket will no longer take place, because on the night of February 28-29 there was an explosion that completely destroyed the prototype. The explosion took place while refueling fuel tanks with liquid nitrogen. So far, representatives of SpaceX and Elon Musk have not reported what led to the explosion.

Previous test and explosion

This is not the first explosion during the development of the Starship project. The previous Starship prototype Mk1 exploded during pressure tests on November 20, 2019. Commenting on this event, Elon Musk said that Mk1 was never supposed to start, and pressure tests were supposed to check the maximum stress that the tank can withstand, so basically the test provided all necessary information.

So far, the only flight under the program was made on August 27, 2019 by the smaller Starhopper vehicle equipped with a single engine. During the flight Starhopper reached a height of 150 m.

Starship project

Starship (previously known as Big F ***** Rocket - BFR) is intended to be part of the integrated Super Heavy Starship system consisting of a rocket and a spacecraft. Potentially, the rocket should be able to carry over 100 tons of cargo to low Earth orbit, and over time also enable manned missions to Mars.

According to information provided by Elon Musk, in September last year Starship's target will be 50 m long, 9 m in diameter, and its weight will reach up to 120 t. It will be powered by six Raptor engines, three of which will be responsible for work in a vacuum, and three at low altitudes.

Attached to the bottom step called Super Heavy is an additional 68 m in length. The lower part of the entire system will be powered by at least 24 Raptor engines, although during the graphic presentation they showed a ship equipped with as many as 37 engines.

Do the previous failures in Starship tests threaten the above ambitious plans? In any other case I would say yes. However, Elon Musk has already accustomed us to moving forward like a tank. Therefore, I suspect that in a few weeks there will be new photos showing intensive work on the construction of the next prototype. With such determination of the creator of SpaceX and his team, sooner or later Starship will fly. And then the orbit, the moon and Mars will be open to us.

* of course, BFR in short was about Big Falcon Rocket. What else?

Starship prototype exploded during testing. Again


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