SpaceX's Starship Booster Bursts Into Massive Fireball As Test Goes Badly Wrong

Daisy Phillipson

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SpaceX's Starship Booster Bursts Into Massive Fireball As Test Goes Badly Wrong

Featured Image Credit: NASASpaceflight/YouTube

Shocking footage has emerged showing the moment one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX booster rockets burst into a massive fireball during a test run. 

Captured by NASA Spaceflight's livestream, the Booster 7 – a prototype for SpaceX’s next-generation Starship spacecraft – exploded at the Orbital Launch Pad at the company's headquarters in Boca Chica, Texas, on Monday, July 11.

Chris Bergin of NASA Spaceflight shared a clip of the disaster on Twitter, writing: “Holy moly. Well, that was unexpected!”

In response, Musk said: "Yeah, actually not good. Team is assessing damage." Check it out below:

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The Tesla founder has since offered up an explanation of what caused the issue, stating it was down to testing all engines at the same time. 

“Cryogenic fuel is an added challenge, as it evaporates to create fuel-air explosion risk in a partially oxygen atmosphere like Earth,” he explained.

“That said, we have a lot of sensors to detect this. More later.”

Musk was then asked by a Twitter user: “Elon, would it be possible to maybe burn/evaporate the leaks caused before ignition? 

“I guess space shuttle used to do this, they used to setup small sparks under the shuttle's engine section & burn off all the hydrogen leaks that may have happened before ignition.”

The 51-year-old replied that this was one of the things SpaceX will be doing moving forward, adding: “This particular issue, however, was specific to the engine spin start test (Raptor has a complex start sequence). 

“Going forward, we won’t do a spin start test with all 33 engines at once.”

Concerns have been raised that this latest setback could further delay plans for Starship’s orbital flight, which was originally set to occur this year. 

Elon Musk previously said Starship would launch into orbit this year. Credit: Shutterstock
Elon Musk previously said Starship would launch into orbit this year. Credit: Shutterstock

The next generation vehicle has been rocked by a series of explosions during previous test runs, where the rockets have blown to smithereens either upon or just after landing.

Although SpaceX executed the first successful landing of a Starship prototype – the SN15 rocket – last year, some have suggested that the Booster 7 explosion could set back Musk’s ambitions to make space travel a commercial industry. 

Nonetheless, SpaceX bosses remain hopeful, with President and COO Gwynne Shotwell telling CNBC in May that humans will reach Mars in the next decade. 

Gwynne Shotwell is responsible for day-to-day operations at SpaceX. Credit: CNBC Television
Gwynne Shotwell is responsible for day-to-day operations at SpaceX. Credit: CNBC Television

The 58-year-old said, "We should put people on the surface of Mars within a decade,” adding, "I think it will be in this decade, yes."

Shotwell continued: "I think we need to get a large delivery to the surface of Mars, and then people will start thinking harder about it.

“I think within five or six years, people will see that that will be a real place to go."

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]  

Topics: News, SpaceX, Space, Elon Musk, NASA

Daisy Phillipson
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