SpaceX had simply performed yet one more static hearth take a look at of the Raptor engine in its Starship SN4 prototype launch automobile on Friday when the take a look at automobile exploded on the take a look at stand in Boca Chica, Texas. This was the fourth static hearth take a look at of this engine on this prototype, so it’s unclear what went improper versus different static hearth makes an attempt.
This was a take a look at within the growth of Starship, a brand new spacecraft that SpaceX has been creating in Boca Chica. Eventually, the corporate hopes to make use of it to interchange its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket, however Starship remains to be very early in its growth section, whereas these autos are flight-proven, a number of instances over.
SpaceX had simply secured FAA approval to fly its Starship prototype for brief, suborbital take a look at flights. The objective was to fly this SN4 prototype for brief distances following static hearth testing, however that clearly gained’t be potential now, because the automobile seems to have been fully destroyed within the explosion following Friday’s take a look at, as you’ll be able to see under within the stream from NASASpaceflight.com.
The explosion occurred round 1:49 PM native time in Texas, roughly two minutes after it had accomplished its engine take a look at hearth. We’ve reached out to SpaceX to seek out out extra about the reason for at this time’s incident, and whether or not anybody was damage within the explosion. SpaceX sometimes takes loads of security precautions when operating these exams, together with making certain the realm is nicely away from any personnel or different people.
This isn’t the primary time certainly one of SpaceX’s Starship prototypes has met a catastrophic finish; a few earlier take a look at autos succumbed to strain testing whereas being put by means of their paces. This is why house firms take a look at incessantly and stress take a look at autos throughout growth — to make sure that the ultimate operational autos are extremely secure and dependable after they must be.
SpaceX is already engaged on extra prototypes, together with assembling SN5 close by in Boca Chica, so it’s more likely to resume its testing program shortly as soon as it will probably clear the take a look at stand and transfer within the latest prototype. This is a totally separate endeavor from SpaceX’s work on the Commercial Crew program, in order that historic first take a look at launch with astronauts on board ought to proceed both Saturday or Sunday as deliberate, relying on climate.