SpaceX: Starship test ends with a loud explosion

SpaceX suffered a problem during a test of the Starship, its future launcher. A test at the level of the motorization of the first floor caused a violent explosion.

In the language of Elon Musk, this is the kind of event that could have given a “RUD”: Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly or Rapid Unplanned Disassembly. This would give in French a translation like “Quick and unplanned dismantling” or “Rapid and unforeseen dismantling”. The American entrepreneur had used this acronym to refer to the setbacks of the Starship SN9 test.

And it is precisely a “RUD” that SpaceX almost experienced during an attempt to fire the first stage of its future Starship launcher. Because a RUD, in the end, is only a modest term to say that it exploded. The test carried out on July 11, 2022 ended in a strong explosion, with a fire starting at the level of the first floor of the Starship.

An engine test

A video uploaded July 12 by NASASpaceflight shows the troubles of booster No. 7 from different angles. The explosion took place under the stage, during tests at the engine level – the first stage of Starship, which is called Super Heavy, will eventually be powered by 33 Raptor engines in order to tear the rocket from the earth’s attraction.

The damage suffered by the booster and surrounding facilities remains to be assessed. On Twitter, Elon Musk just commented in reaction to the video shared by NASASpaceflight: yes, in fact [ce n’est] not good. The team assesses the damage. » The floor seems not to have suffered too much damage, but ancillary devices may have been destroyed, like oxygen line.

The Starship, once assembled with the upper stage and the lower stage. // Source: SpaceX

It is expected that SpaceX will encounter difficulties periodically during its tests, because they serve precisely to erase the weaknesses of the launcher before its deployment. This is the very meaning of these tests: to reveal poor workmanship and defects so as not to have them on D-Day. This is exactly why NASA insisted in its test of the Space Launch System.

SpaceX would like to make a first orbital flight with the Starship in 2022, but the first planned deadlines, in January and then in May, could not be met. This schedule was probably too ambitious. For the time being, uncertainty remains on the schedule of the American company. And with the misfire during the test of booster No. 7, the blur has thickened.

(article update)

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