SpaceX’s latest Starship test fails in a spectacular implosion

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SpaceX's Starship imploded on Friday during a pressure test.
Image: SpaceX

SpaceX is pushing the boundaries of spaceflight. Ever since the private company started reusing its rockets it has become clear that SpaceX isn’t like any other companies out there. Part of that uniqueness can be attributed to its CEO, Elon Musk.

However, SpaceX suffered a setback over the weekend as the latest test of its Starship rocket ended in failure. The massive craft, designed to carry humans into deep space, imploded after being filled with super-cold propellant. Though it is a relatively minor setback, SpaceX engineers will need to go back to the drawing board to get Starship back on track.

‘Don’t Shuck the Puck’

SpaceX is aggressively pursuing its goals for Starship. It currently has its sights set on a 2022 moon landing with the massive rocket. Considering that NASA is eyeing a 2024 date for the same feat, the goal is ambitious.

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However, it appears that some of the haste behind the company’s efforts could be backfiring. Friday’s Starship failure isn’t the first for the craft. In fact, another failure occurred as recently as November of last year when a Starship prototype exploded during a ground pressure test.

At SpaceX’s launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas, the latest version of Starship collapsed on itself after being filled with super-cold propellant. It then launched into the air before crashing back to Earth and breaking apart.

The video below, captured by YouTube user SPadre, shows the failure in all of its glory.

After taking some time to process the incident, Elon Musk responded to it early Monday morning on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, he addressed it in his typical casual nature, asking “Where’s Flextape when you need it?”

He goes on to note that the failure was caused by a puck at Starship’s base that is responsible for taking on much of its thrust load. Musk tweeted, “Don’t shuck the puck!” in response to a user asking what was learned from the test.

Back to Square One

It’s worth noting that SpaceX has taken an unconventional approach to building and testing its Starship launch vehicle. Rather than perfecting one prototype, the company is simultaneously building and testing multiple versions. After Starship’s failure in November, SpaceX simply abandoned that version and moved on to a new one.

Video from Friday’s incident shows crumpled pieces of the Starship rocket lying on the ground. As such, it’s likely that the company will need to scrap this version as well.

Nonetheless, it will quickly get back to testing. Musk also noted on Twitter than his company plans to test a new prototype of Starship within the next few days. To target the pucks that destroyed the most recent version, SpaceX will strip the next vehicle to a “bare minimum.”

Since Starship is SpaceX’s next big rocket, it’s important that the company gets it right. Despite the setbacks over the last few months, it will undoubtedly create a flight-ready vehicle eventually—even if the timeline is lengthier than expected.

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