A booster developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company for its next-generation Starship spacecraft caught fire during a ground test in Texas on Monday, compromising the US billionaire’s goal of putting his ship in orbit this year.
The failure came amid a static test campaign of the thruster, fitted with a set of 33 Raptor engines intended for use in an upcoming uncrewed orbital test flight which SpaceX hopes to launch later this year.
“Yes, in fact, It’s not good. The team is assessing the damage“, said Elon Musk on Twitter after the explosion early Monday evening of the 7th prototype of the Super Heavy booster.
Due to the explosion, which occurred during the engine spin-start test, the base of the rocket was engulfed in a ball of flame and thick smoke.
“In the future, we will no longer do a spin-start test with all 33 motors at the same time.“, announced Elon Musk on Twitter.
Four more misfires during landing attempts
SpaceX’s Starship, which will be 120 meters tall when mated to its booster, is the next-generation launch vehicle from Elon Musk’s companywhich aims to make manned space travel more affordable and common.
Asked about a possible investigation following the explosion, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also not given an answer at this time.
End of 2020 and beginning of 2021, SpaceX lost four Starship prototypes during a series of high-altitude test launches, when attempts to land on the return ended in explosions. A Starship prototype finally landed safely in May 2021.