SpaceX has enjoyed a lot of success recently as the company managed to test the Starship Hopper successfully, revealed a new prototype, and announced that 120 Starlink satellites are now floating in the low-orbit of our planet.
However, there can be no progress without some challenges. During a cryogenic loading test, the Starship Mk 1 faced a powerful explosion that launched the bulkhead over a long distance and spread frozen vapor over the launch area.
The complication may seem severe, but this is not the case as a SpaceX representative stated that such issues were anticipated, and they will not delay the current launch schedule, as an orbital flight test should take place in the following months.
Videos recorded by amateur sources shows that the explosion erupted from both ends of the fuselage. During the loading test, the methane and oxygen tanks were filled with cryogenic liquid as SpaceX engineers wanted to observe their endurance while being fully-pressurized.
Prototype SpaceX Spacecraft Exploded During Testing
An inaugural test flight that involved the use of three Raptor engines should have taken place after the test, intending to reach an altitude of 20 kilometers (or approximately 12.5 miles).
It appears that the bulkhead couldn’t withstand the pressure, allowing cryogenic vapor to escape. The bottom bulkhead also failed, and vapor started to spread across the surrounding zone. The bulkhead was recovered without problems, and there were no injuries.
Elon Musk has also announced that the company will abandon the prototype and start to work harder on an improved MK3 design. A delay could take place, but the length is unpredictable at his point. The Mk 2prorotype is stored at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station while the construction of Mk 3 should begin soon at Boca Chica.
Mk 3 will feature a selection of improvements among which we can count optimized Raptor engines that have been fine-tuned for both sea-level operations and outer space ones.