The third prototype of Elon Musk-run SpaceXs next-generation rocket Starship 'SN3' broke apart during a pressure test at the company's test site in Boca Chica, Texas. "We will see what data review says, but this may have been a test configuration mistake," Musk tweeted late Friday shortly after the failure.
Vehicle lost structural integrity
Video of the incident shows the top portion of the prototype vehicle losing its structural integrity, causing it to come tumbling down. The explosion happened as liquid nitrogen was being poured into the rocket's propellant tanks, reports Gizmodo. This is the third failed test of a Starship prototype since the project began late last year.
Several prototypes needed to perfect Starship
On November 20 last year, the Mk1 prototype blew its top during a cryogenic pressure test and on February 28, the SN2 prototype exploded at the base during a cryogenic pressurization test. Musk has hinted that many of these prototypes will be needed to perfect the Starship vehicle.
"We are now building flight design of Starship SN1, but each SN will have at least minor improvements, at least through SN20 or so of Starship V1.0" Musk had tweeted.
In January, SpaceX successfully launched an emergency abort system test above Cape Canaveral and into the Atlantic Ocean.