A ground-based pressure test of Elon Musk’s new massive Starship SN1 prototype rocket resulted in catastrophic failure of the vehicle.
The Starship concept has three distinct aims. The first is to act as a sub-orbital passenger vehicle to traverse the planet in record-quick times. Musk in 2017 talked about reaching destinations that would normally take 16, 18 or more hours in less than 1 hour.
The second variant is to form the basis of Elon Musk’s extremely long-distance Mars project. The third, and perhaps priority, is to launch SpaceX’s flotilla of satellites for its Starlink mega-constellation.
However, on February 28th, the night-time liquid nitrogen pressure test evidently blew the rocket apart near its Boca Chica (south-East Texas) launch pad with the aftermath leaving the rocket in a totally damaged state. This is the second problem to affect a Starship prototype with a similar event occurring last November.
There’s no comment yet from Musk but he has in the past cautioned that there would be faults, set-backs and challenges as the rocket system was developed. “We’re now building flight design of Starship SN1, but each SN will have at least minor improvements, at least through SN20 or so of Starship V1.0,” Musk wrote on Twitter back in December 2019.