One of SpaceX’s prototypes of the ambitious Starship spacecraft suffered a failure during a pressure test at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
The Starship SN1 was placed on the pad before liquid nitrogen was pumped into its tank to test if its improved steel structure can withstand cryogenic fuels. Apparently it couldn’t, since it failed just like the Starship Mk1 did in November of last year during a similar test.
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Onsite cameras show large clouds of white vapor billowing under the SN1. It was then propelled several meters into the air by a powerful burst and imploded before crashing down.
The Starship is meant for future manned missions, including Mars colonization. Experts say the Friday night SN1 flop, spectacular as it may be, represents a minor bump on the road rather than a major stumbling block.
The SN1 rocket failure is disappointing but not unexpected. Starship is a lot like the Falcon 1, when countless failures at McGregor would send tanks and engines tumbling across Texas like a Russian ballerina. They weren’t broadcast to the world, but it’s part of going fast.
— Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) February 29, 2020
SpaceX will still have to amend its program after losing the prototype, since it was intended to be the first to perform a flight, rising to an altitude of about 20km sometime after a static fire of three Raptor engines.
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