Elon Musk and his SpaceX team haven’t had a good 48 hours. During a ground test, SpaceX’s Starship booster rocket was engulfed in flames. Its result is now being deemed as potentially disastrous to the organization’s upcoming plans.
The specific booster rocket, developed by the Tesla founder’s SpaceX for its next-generation Starship spacecraft, burst into a giant fireball at the organization’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
In footage posted online, viewers can see a powerful burst of flames immersing the bottom of the rocket. The explosion also sent splinters flying, shaking the camera as it caught the disaster.
In addition, the explosion may have delayed the company’s plans for the $216 million rocket’s maiden orbital flight. The rocket’s debut launch was tentatively scheduled for launch sometime this summer.
NASA hand-picked the bullet-shaped stainless steel Starship for the Artemis missions to the Moon, set to take place this decade.
SpaceX is planning to have astronauts board a two-stage spacecraft composed of Starship (the passenger-carrying section) and the Super Heavy rocket booster. However, the company has a long road ahead of them if they want to get off the ground.
The firm has much to do in terms of construction of the $216 million Starship, formerly known as “BFR.” In the past several months, SpaceX has been testing several Starship prototypes. They’ve even launched them and had successful landings.
However, things took a turn for the worst on Monday during a ground test of the Super Heavy booster when it exploded at around 4:20 pm local time.
Elon Musk posts about Starship explosion
At the time of the explosion, NASA was recording a live stream of the event. As viewers can see in the stream, the booster remained upright, as it had been bolted to a test gantry. In addition, there were no immediate reports of injuries.
Shortly after the incident, Musk penned on Twitter: “Yeah, actually not good. Team is assessing damage.”
The SpaceX founder added that the explosion was due to “spin tests” of the 33 Raptor engines, which were powered by cryogenic liquid methane and liquid oxygen.
Musk added that tat cryogenic fuel was also an “added challenge,” writing, “It evaporates to create fuel-air explosion risk in a partially oxygen atmosphere like Earth.”
He continued: “Going forward, we won’t do a spin start test with all 33 engines at once.”
An FAA spokesperson also released an official statement about the explosion. “The FAA is in close contact with SpaceX as the company looks into the fire that occurred as part of its Super Heavy booster rocket development.
They added: “The law limits the FAA’s safety oversight to protecting the public during scheduled launch and reentry operations. Yesterday’s event does not fall under the agency’s jurisdiction.
Starship is the firm’s next-generation launch vehicle, hoping to make human space travel more affordable and commonplace.