Elon Musk’s SpaceX faces a firey setback as a booster rocket for its Starship spacecraft burst into flames during a ground-test firing.
Things went south in a Monday test in Texas where space company’s Super Heavy Booster 7 prototype exploded as seen in a livestream recorded by the website Nasa Spaceflight.
‘Yeah, actually not good. Team is assessing damage,’ Mr Musk said on Twitter after the early evening explosion.
The explosion engulfed the base of the rocket in a ball of flames and heavy smoke and appeared to shake the video camera. However, there was no immediate indication of injuries.
‘Going forward, we won’t do a spin start test with all 33 engines at once,’ Mr Musk said on Twitter, explaining that the issue was was specific to the engine spin start test.
After the explosion, the booster remained standing upright, bolted to a test gantry.
The failure came in the midst of a dayslong static fire test campaign of the booster, in Boca Chica, Texas.
The booster was equipped with an array of 33 Raptor engines for use in an upcoming uncrewed orbital test flight SpaceX hoped to launch later this year.
The explosion is likely to setback Musk’s aim of launching Starship to orbit this year.
The Starship is central to Nasa’s plans to return to the moon as well as Musk’s mission to make humans an ‘interplanetary species’ starting with Mars.
In June, SpaceX’s proposed Super Heavy rocket program in Boca Chica received approval pending dozens of conditions. It’s unclear if the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will look into the explosion.
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