Starhopper Goes Up in Flames During SpaceX Test

Fire engulfs Starhopper during test 1 photo
Photo: Everyday Astronaut via Youtube
It seems like a bad year for SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space company. After a few months ago its star spaceship, the Crew Dragon, blew up on the test pad, this week the Starship prototype seems to have suffered a similar fate.
On Tuesday, the company was conducting a static fire test at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas. For reasons yet unknown, just as the test got started, a fireball engulfed the machine in a spectacular way.

Until now it's unclear what started the fire, or how damaged the Starship sustained. Judging by the images alone, they might be extensive.

You can have a look at how it all went down in the video attached below.

The Raptor engine of the Starhopper was installed in March and fired for the first time in April. It was the first tethered hop of the spaceship meant to be the precursor of a craft capable of taking humans to Mars. Starhopper is designed as a test vehicle for the take-off and landing capabilities of the current generation of rockets.

As with any setback of this kind in space exploration, this week's incident, whatever it was, will only better the final product. Once testing is done, production of the full-scale Starship will commence.

Initial details say the finished, crew-capable craft will launch on top the Big Falcon Rocket, possibly as soon as 2022. Starting that year Musk plans to send it carrying cargo to Mars, in preparation for human arrival some years later.

At least, these were the plans laid out a few years ago. It's unclear now how far behind schedule SpaceX is in relation with these targets.

A more down-to-Earth use for the Starship will be closer to home. Launched from the ground, the ship could take a ballistic route so fast that it could complete a 4,000 km trip (2,485 miles) from Los Angeles to New York in 25 minutes.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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