SpaceX on Thursday said that the prototype version of its Starship exploded during a ground test on Wednesday. The test was being done at the company's facility Boca Chica Beach in South Texa, when the Starship blew its top off during a pressurization test.
The company said that it was a high-intensity blast that saw pieces of aluminum flying with vapor engulfing the air, there were no injuries. The winged-rocket was being tested it conical nose section. Named Starship Mark-1, this was the first significant test of the rocket's fuel tanks.
This certainly is a major setback for Elon Musk, who had unveiled the Starship prototype at an event on September 28 at Boca Chica. Musk during the unveiling had said that the company was planning to launch Starship's test flight within a few months.
Accident happened midway
The much-awaited Starship, which is also one of Musk's most ambitious projects, was scheduled for its first significant pressurization. The test started as planned but somewhere halfway through the process the bulkhead of the vehicle blasted and flew away in pieces.
Immediately after the blast, a large white cloud of smoke along with vapor started coming out of the vehicle. Although Space X engineers are trying to downplay the entire event and are claiming it to be a minor problem, this definitely is a setback for millions who have been waiting for the test flight of the vehicle.
Can Starship take off on time?
The big question remains if the vehicle will be ready on time. The Starship is being developed with idea of carrying passengers and cargo to Moon and eventually Mars. The 400-feet tall Starship will be replacing the entire fleet of Space X's Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 rockets.
Although Musk had said that the test flight would take place as soon as in the next few months, it might be possible that Starship Mark-1 gets completely abandoned after the blast. The reason is simple. A Mark-2 is already being developed and a Mark-3 is in the pipeline.
Elon Musk's aggressive moves
Musk has been quite aggressive over the past few weeks, particularly since his car company Tesla announced its third-quarter results. This was clear when Tesla unveiled its China-made Model 3 ahead of its deadline.
The company will be launching the car anytime next month. This was followed by Musk's big announcement last week of opening Gigafactoty 4 in Berlin, its second facility outside the United States.