News hardware SpaceX: Mars rocket explodes during test
The first stage of SpaceX’s rocket suffered an unplanned explosion during a test. A 90-meter fireball then formed around the prototype. An incident that risks delaying the long-awaited first launch of the orbital rocket.
Uncontrolled explosion for SpaceX’s Super Heavy Booster 7
The StarShip rocket’s reusable launch vehicle failed a launch readiness test. Causing an explosion from below the rocket, at the level of the 33 Raptor engines. The loud bang was heard for miles around, creating a colossal shock wave.
At first, Elon Musk tweeted that the explosion was planned and everything was normal. Except that no one believed it on Twitter, asking for further explanation. Especially since the premises must be evacuated within a certain perimeter and a request must be made to carry out a test that could cause a shock wave. In this case, this request was not made. This confirms that there was indeed a malfunction at the bottom of the launcher.
Hours after the event, Elon Musk deleted and reposted a new post. It reads: “Yes, actually not good. The team assesses the damage.” Before adding that cryogenic fuel is an additional challenge which increases the risk of an explosion in the Earth’s atmosphere. While specifying that sensors are there to avoid such an event.
Yeah, actually not good. Team is assessing damage.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2022
A very probable risk of delay
After the explosion, the valves of Booster 7 opened to reduce the pressure. SpaceX has resolved not to use the articulated arm to empty the fuel from the rocket, the risk being that there was damage to the connector during the explosion. An hour later, the rocket dropped cryogenic fluid, causing a fire a few meters from Booster 7, for at least two hours. Luckily, it did no apparent damage.
The explosion is likely to have damaged the underside of the machine, probably damaging the engines, according to some experts. Luckily for SpaceX, Booster 8 was spotted assembled a few days ago. There is a good chance that this is the one that will launch Starship for the first orbital flight.
The first take-off of the Booster and the Starship should arrive during the year. But this explosion risks delaying the event. SpaceX will have to understand, repair and test the next Booster that will be installed on the launch pad.