SpaceX's Mars rocket prototype implodes during test: Details here
A prototype of SpaceX's highly-ambitious Starship appears to have imploded during an internal test at the company's test facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The rocket, dubbed Starship SN1, was being advanced for a high-altitude test flight, but just like the first prototype from the space-faring company, this one also blew up on the ground itself. Here's all about the failed test.
Starship SN1 failure during internal pressure test
Though details are fairly limited, a video of the incident, shared by SPadre.com, shows the rocket going through, what looked like, a pressure test on the launchpad. However, as the test moved on, a large quantity of vapor started spewing out of the bottom of the structure, ultimately rupturing the entire thing and shooting it up in the air for a couple of seconds.
No one reported injured, but prototype looks destroyed
At the time of writing, there was neither any word from SpaceX nor any report of injuries from the site. However, the video of the incident clearly shows that the mid-section of the prototype was completely crumpled and destroyed under the pressure. Some reports say that the tank holding pressurized liquid nitrogen might have failed structurally, causing the entire prototype to implode.
SpaceX wanted to launch this vehicle by March-April
The implosion of the SN1 prototype marks a major setback for SpaceX, given that the company was targeting to launch it on a high-altitude flight by March-April, according to CEO Elon Musk's statement from December. Notably, the flight was initially scheduled to be carried out by the Starship Mk1 prototype, but that one had also blown its top during a pressure test in November.
Launch timeline likely to be shifted
That said, with the SN1 prototype also gone, SpaceX is expected to focus its attention on its successor - the SN2 prototype. The new prototype has also been in development at Boca Chica, but it remains unclear how far it has progressed lately. Either way, given that it was behind SN1 in development, there is a chance that the high-altitude flight might move forward.
Crewed flight being targeted for next year
Previously, SpaceX had said if the development/testing of the SN series goes properly, they would begin the work on Super Heavy, the liquid-oxygen powered booster that would propel the rocket into space. Then, it will use the combination of the advanced-stage prototype and booster to fly a crew of humans into orbit and back sometime next year. For now, that flight looks distant!
This will lead to the development of final Starship
The testing of SN prototypes, orbital flights, and other related tests will help SpaceX prepare the final version of Starship (with 6 Raptor engines) and Super Heavy (with 37 Raptor engines) over time. That rocket will eventually be utilized to fly humans and cargo weighing up to 100 tons for building bases on Moon and Mars and make humans a multi-planetary species.