The fourth Starship prototype was and is gone. A powerful explosion in Boca Chica

Starship's fourth prototype, SpaceX's new spacecraft, was the first to successfully refuel . What's more, it was the first Starship prototype that successfully survived the launch of the Raptor engine. It was the right word, because the fourth prototype Starship is gone.

Yesterday evening at the Boca Chica complex in Texas SN4 exploded just after another successful attempt to start the engine. A moment after the end of the test, the ship exploded, turning into a powerful fireball, completely destroying the prototype, but thus causing significant losses on the test bench.

A few hours before the explosion, the first SN4 "jump" was planned, i.e. a low altitude flight. We now know that it will not happen.

Starship has nothing to do with Crew Dragon

The explosion of the ship took place at a crucial moment: between the first and second attempts to start the Demo-2 mission, during which the Crew Dragon ship will for the first time take two astronauts: Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station.

The first attempt to start was canceled due to adverse weather conditions several minutes before the start. The second attempt is scheduled for 21:22 Polish time on Saturday. Current weather forecasts indicate that the chance to start is 50%.

However, it is worth emphasizing here that the Starship explosion has nothing to do with the Crew Dragon ship.

Starship is being built in an iterative way and the chance of destroying the prototype was included in the cost. SN1, SN2 and SN3 have been damaged in the last three months. After each failure, SpaceX analyzes its causes, makes the appropriate changes and builds another prototype. In this way, SN4 was the first vessel to withstand pressure tests during refueling. Yesterday's explosion also provided SpaceX with lots of information about the ship, which will allow the introduction of appropriate corrections in the next SN5 prototype. In this way, the rate of development and design of the ship is much faster than with a more classic approach to rocket design.

Unlike Starship, Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket are already proven equipment. Dragon, on which its passenger version is based, has already carried out several dozen transport missions aboard the ISS, and Falcon 9 rockets have been taking off almost every few weeks for several years. The safety level of this set is assessed as very high, and the risk of start failure or crew death is relatively low.

Saturday's start can be watched live on the SpaceX channel, NASA, and in Polish on the Astrofaza channel (beginning of the report at 21:00).

The fourth Starship prototype was and is gone. A powerful explosion in Boca Chica


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