Moment Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship prototype blows its top during a cryogenic pressure test in Texas
- Plumes of smoke were seen billowing out of the top of the 165-foot spacecraft
- SpaceX says the test was designed to pressurise systems to the max
- The company will now turn its attention to Mk3 – a newer Starship prototype
The first full-size prototype of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship rocket, designed for manned missions to Mars and beyond, has exploded during pressure testing.
The Mk1 prototype was undergoing a cryogenic pressure test at SpaceX’s facilities near the South Texas village of Boca Chica when the spacecraft blew its top.
Videos of the explosion shared on social media show plumes of smoke billowing out from the top of the 165-foot spacecraft.
According to onlooker LabPadre, who shared a video on YouTube, the top shot up almost 500 feet in the air as cryofluid engulfed the complex.
Smoke was seen billowing out of the top of the 165-foot spacecraft after it blew its top during a cryogenic pressure test
‘The purpose of today’s test was to pressurise systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected,’ a SpaceX spokesperson said in a statement to Space.com.
‘There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback.’
Musk himself added in a tweet that the company will now turn its attention to Mk3 – a newer prototype of the spacecraft that is designed for orbit.
‘Absolutely, but to move to Mk3 design. This had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder, but flight design is quite different,’ Musk wrote.
The purpose of the test was to pressurise systems to the max. SpaceX claims the outcome ‘was not completely unexpected’
SpaceX will now turn its attention to Mk3 – a newer prototype of the spacecraft that is designed for orbit
The Mk1 prototype was unveiled with considerable fanfare in late September.
The architecture consists of the spaceship (also known as Starship) and a giant rocket called Super Heavy – both of which will be reusable.
Super Heavy will launch Starship to orbit around the Earth, then come back down for a vertical landing – just as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets already do.
Starship, which Musk has said will be capable of carrying about 100 passengers, will then make its own way to the moon, Mars or possibly deeper into space.
Starship is expected to carryout commercial flights in orbit around 2021, with the goal of one day traveling to Mars
SpaceX hopes its style of reusable rocket will mark a major breakthrough in aerospace technology that will eventually make exploration cheaper and more sustainable.
Ultimately, Musk hopes that the company’s Starship could help humans reach Mars for the first time and has set an optimistic timeline for when the experimental craft might be able to do so.
The first crewed Red Planet mission for the rocket and 100-passenger Starship could come as early as the mid-2020s if development and testing go well, Musk has said
Additional missions may even include tourists trips to the moon by 2024, according to the CEO.