A SpaceX’s prototype version of next-generation rocket caught fire last evening following an engine test in Boca Chica, Texas. About four minutes after SpaceX briefly ignited the vehicle’s engine, a second small explosion engulfed the rocket in flames for a couple of seconds — seemingly by accident. The fire was rapidly extinguished. However, the incident may postpone the first massive flight of the vehicle.
The hardware that caught on fire is the test model of SpaceX’s next huge rocket, the Starship: a massive spacecraft the corporate is developing to take folks and cargo into deep space. SpaceX is constructing several versions of the rocket on the firm’s test facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Boca Chica. These automobiles are meant to try out the Starship design and eventually test its capabilities in space.
The test rocket in Boca Chica is tasked with exhibiting off the prowess of SpaceX’s new engine, the Raptor, which was developed particularly for Starship. Equipped with one Raptor engine on its underside, the test vehicle is about to perform a series of “hop” tests within the weeks and months forward. Throughout these events, the vehicle’s engine will ignite, taking the rocket up to an altitude high above the Earth. It’ll hover there for some time before utilizing its engine to land back on the ground. It’s all meant to test the vehicle’s capability to launch from and land on Earth — in addition to other planets.
SpaceX didn’t confirm whether or not the second explosion was indeed an accident; however, in response to locals, there aren’t any more road closures planned across the firm’s site. That signifies testing is no longer scheduled for the rest of the week — pictures of Starhopper taken this morning present seemingly minimal damage to the vehicle.