SpaceX Starship prototype destroyed after static-fire test

Katie Ramirez
June 2, 2020

According to Ars Technica editor Eric Berger, the Starship SN4 prototype was in its fifth static fire test when there was an uncontrolled leak. The first prototype of the company, Starship MK1, has been destroyed during a pressure test, back in November 2019.

A live broadcast on NASA's website showed white smoke coming out of the spacecraft before it was obliterated in a massive explosion.

SpaceX had just conducted yet another static fire test of the Raptor engine in its Starship SN4 prototype launch vehicle on Friday when the test vehicle exploded on the test stand in Boca Chica, Texas. It is a 165-foot-tall Starship rocket and its Super Heavy mega booster.

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SpaceX Starship prototype destroyed after static-fire test

The unmanned Starship SN4 prototype is designed with the hopes of making the colonisation and exploration of Mars, the Moon and beyond possible. The company had received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for short test flights earlier this week. The huge rocket, which is created to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo to moon and Mars, was undergoing tests when the explosion took place. Musk who spoke on the podcast days before the explosion stated that "I have redirected SpaceX's priorities to be very focused on the crew launch, so that's going to slow things down on the Starship front". Then it happened again, in February, to its successor.

The SN4 had passed several important milestones during development, including a pressurization test that had foiled previous models. The SN3 prototype, meanwhile, collapsed during testing in April.

The explosion comes as the company is counting down to another major launch on a different rocket. This specific Starship obtained additional alongside in the testing course of than the others. This is a completely separate endeavor from SpaceX's work on the Commercial Crew program, so that historic first test launch with astronauts on board should proceed either Saturday or Sunday as planned, depending on weather.

The original Falcon 9 launch was scrubbed on Wednesday due to bad weather.

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