SpaceX’s Starship booster engine explodes in test

SpaceX’s Starship rocket launch vehicle’s first-stage booster Super Heavy faced an unintended explosion during a ground test.

During a test on Monday, a blaze erupted at the base of Booster 7 — a prototype of Super Heavy — at the company’s Starbase facility in South Texas. It was “not good” and “unintentional”, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter.

“Team is assessing damage.”

He added that the explosion took place when an “engine spin start test” did not go according to plan.

SpaceX is developing Starship to take people and cargo to the moon, Mars, and beyond. The vehicle consists of two elements: a first-stage booster called Super Heavy and an upper-stage spacecraft known as Starship.

Both Starship and Super Heavy are designed to be completely and rapidly reusable, and will be powered by SpaceX’s new Raptor engine – 33 for Super Heavy and six for Starship.

The company is prepping Booster 7 for the first-ever Starship orbital test flight, which is likely to lift off in the next few months, SpaceX.com reported.

SpaceX has launched several upper-stage Starship prototypes on high-altitude test flights, even sticking the landing with one of them in May 2021. But the upcoming mission, which will send a Starship vehicle known as Ship 24 to orbit, will be the first-ever launch for a Super Heavy.

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