SpaceX's first Starship pops its top during a 'pressure test' in Texas

Katie Ramirez
November 22, 2019

The Starship Mk1 spacecraft prototype suffered a failure during a cryogenic pressure test at the Boca Chica test site in southern Texas on Wednesday, according to the space.com portal.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk indicated that the company will now move on to more advanced Starship prototypes for future tests, as opposed to repairing the Mk 1 prototype.

The portal reported that the upper section of the rocket bounced off and fell near the testing ground. 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]".

In a statement emailed to Gizmodo, SpaceX shrugged off the incident.

"There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback", it added.

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"This had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder, but flight design is quite different", Musk tweeted.

SpaceX said engineers have already turned their focus to a newer test vehicle design, dubbed Mark-3.

SpaceX didn't offer more information, such as whether the incident will result in development delays, or if it will affect a recent claim made by SpaceX that Starship will be able to deliver cargo to the Moon by 2022.

Besides the dream of taking humans into space, NASA recently announced SpaceX is eligible to bid on proposals to make deliveries to the moon as a part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services.

Dramatic failures like this are actually a good thing. As SpaceX engineer David Giger has said, the company "was built on test, test, test, test, test" and the powers of iterative development. The larger Mk1, constructed in Boca Chica, Texas, was to have pushed that envelope with three Raptor engines, although an orbital version of Starship is not expected before 2020.

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