Fourth SpaceX Starship Rocket Prototype Explodes in Texas (+Video)
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Starship SN4 prototype, built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company for interplanetary flights, has blown up after an engine test in Texas. It’s already the third prototype to explode this year.
SpaceX is not having the best of luck this week – first the Falcon 9 launch was scrubbed Wednesday and now the firms' a prototype Starship rocket has exploded, the Daily Mail reported.
The prototype Serial Number 4 vanished into a fireball at SpaceX's Boca Chica site in Texas Friday shortly the engine was ignited for a pressurized test.
The failure comes days after SpaceX had to abort the blastoff of their Falcon 9 rocket, in what would have been the first manned launch from US soil in nine years.
That launch has now been rescheduled for tomorrow.
This is the fourth Starship rocket that has been lost while testing - all of the previous vessels also imploded during testing.
Starship, a rocket standing 394 feet tall, is designed to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo to the moon, Mars and beyond.
The SN4 had passed several important milestones during development, including a pressurization test that had foiled previous models.
The massive rocket is SpaceX's planned next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle, the center of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's ambitions to make human space travel affordable.
The first rocket was tested in 2019, Mk1 prototype, but was engulfed in flames during a cryogenic pressure test.
The second rocket, dubbed Serial Number 1 (SN1), fell victim to another pressure test when it failed to contain its liquid nitrogen.
However, this time the stainless steel cylinder flew off the stand and came down crashing.
And the third time SpaceX saw its third catastrophic failure was last month -again the Starship prototype imploded during the cryogenic pressure test.
Musk had high hopes that Starship would be ready for its first orbital test flight sometime this year, which would send the rocket over 12 miles into orbit and land the craft back in the same spot it took off from.
SpaceX was among the three companies awarded a combined $1 billion by NASA last month to develop rocket systems capable of ferrying cargo and humans to the moon. SpaceX proposed Starship for the award.
The FAA granted the space company a license Thursday to begin Starship's first suborbital flight tests, though it was unclear when those tests would occur.
The failure is just the icing on the cake for Musk this week, as Wednesday the billionaire had to scrub the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket due to poor weather.
The mission, called ‘Launch America,’ was set to take astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station.
However, with just 16 minutes and 54 seconds left on the countdown clock, the mission was aborted.
The rocket launch has now been rescheduled for 3:22pm Saturday, but bad weather is still on the minds of the team, as there is currently a 50 percent probability Falcon 9 will head to space.
If successful this would be the first time American astronauts have been launched from US soil in nine years.
The ground crew needed to pass three weather criteria in order to launch at the 4:33pm liftoff time, but officials had to stop the countdown - even though the weather would have cleared 10 minutes afterwards.
But the launch could not wait, because the fast-changing position of the International Space Station (ISS) meant the rocket would have missed the target even leaving just seconds after the schedule liftoff time.
The space station orbits some 250 miles above Earth and travels more than 17,000 miles per hour.
This means NASA needs to stay with a precise launch schedule in order for the Crew Dragon to successfully dock on the ISS.
The current forecast for Saturday calls for precipitation, anvil clouds and cumulus clouds – three key factors that could keep Launch America grounded.
According to the reports, Sunday holds just a 40 percent chance of bad weather for liftoff - making it a 60 percent chance the mission will be a go.
The bad weather looming over Florida is related to Tropical Storm Bertha, which made landfall in South Carolina Wednesday morning.
The National Weather Center said the storm's center was near the Great Lakes by the end of the day on Thursday, and is expected to dissipate in the next two days.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein hosted a live press conference today to discuss the details of Saturday’s event.
'One of the things we are going to do this afternoon is get another weather brief and we might make the decision that Sunday is the day and not Saturday,’ he said.
'It will depend on the probabilities, it will be arranged by what the probabilities are on Saturday and what the probabilities are on Sunday.'
'If it is a high enough probability on Saturday, we target that day.'
'The question is, if we have a 50 percent probability and the next opportunity is on Sunday, we could put ourselves in back-to-back wet dress rehearsals Saturday and Sunday.'
However, NASA has recently noted that the final decision on Saturday's launch will be made tomorrow morning.