SpaceX's Starship prototype blows its top during Texas test

21 Novembre, 2019, 20:36 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • SpaceX's Starship prototype blows its top during Texas test

Two months ago, Elon Musk unveiled SpaceX's first prototype of its Mars-colonizing spacecraft, a 165-foot-tall, all-stainless-steel space vessel called the Starship Mk1, at the company's test site in Boca Chica, Texas, proudly calling it "the most inspiring thing I've ever seen". The good news is that this is exactly why SpaceX (and anyone building rockets) does this kind of early-stage testing on the ground, in controlled, relatively safe conditions.

SpaceX's Starship MK-1 prototype appears to have suffered a serious failure during testing at the company's Boca Chica Beach facility Tuesday afternoon. Responding to one rocket enthusiast who suggested SpaceX move onto the next generations of Starship prototypes, instead of trying to fix the damaged Mk1, the SpaceX CEO wrote, "Absolutely, but to move to Mk3 design [third-generation prototype]".

SpaceX has another Starship prototype, the Mk2, under construction at Cocoa in Florida and we imagine will be applying the lessons learned from today's cryo-tanking incident to that vehicle's construction.

It's important to remember this in no way dooms Starship's development and it's not clear how much it may set the program back, if at all.

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According to a statement from SpaceX, no one was hurt in the explosion, and the test was to pressurize the vehicle to the max.

As Elon tweeted, Mk1 served as a valuable manufacturing pathfinder but flight design is quite different.

SpaceX does not consider Wednesday's events to be a "serious setback". The decision had already been made to not fly this test article and the team is focused on the Mk3 builds, which are designed for orbit.

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