A prototype for Starship super-rocket which Elon Mask's SpaceX company is developing for interplanetary flights, exploded tonight during a pressure test on its pad at the company’s South Texas facility. This is reported by Geekwire.
Streaming video from Boca Chica showed the silo-shaped tank assembly for the prototype known as Starship SN1 wreathed in light and vapor during the test, which was conducted with inert liquid nitrogen. At about 10 p.m. CT (8 p.m. PT), the tank popped. The structure imploded as it flew into the air, then fell to the ground.
Initial reports suggested that the tank suffered a structural failure during pressurization. Information about potential injuries or the extent of damage wasn’t immediately available, but we’ve reached out to SpaceX and will update this item with anything we hear.
This prototype was designed only for initial rounds of tests. SpaceX plans to use future Starship prototypes for more ambitious tests that would build up to orbital flights. “Not much to worry about here,” Next Spaceflight’s Michael Baylor tweeted. “Test, fail, fix, test, fail, fix is SpaceX’s game. They will learn from it and get it right.”
Earlier the fifth Falcon 9 rocket - fifth one over the year so far - took flight, sending 60 Internet-beaming satellites into space, as Space.com reported.
“Following the successful launch, the rocket’s first stage gently touched down on a floating platform at sea, marking the company’s 40th booster recovery. It was the third flight for this particular booster, marking just the second time SpaceX has flown a Falcon 9 first stage more than twice,” the news agency said.
Falcon 9 lifted off 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT on May 24) from Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida.