SpaceX, the space exploration company that billionaire Elon Musk co-runs with automobile company Tesla, experienced a major mishap testing one of its rockets.
Engineers at the SpaceX facility in South Texas were conducting a ground test on one of its prototypes, named the Starship Mark-1. The goal was to check how well the rocket could withstand high amounts of pressure when rising in the atmosphere and orbiting through space. The experiment failed woefully, as a metal lid on the rocket exploded during the test.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) November 22, 2019
Optimism for Future Designs?
The burst was followed with the dislodgement of shards of aluminum, and the discharge of hot vapor around the area. This event shows the Starship Mark-1 isn’t ready to be launched into space. The company told reporters that no injuries were sustained and the failure wasn’t a setback.
“The purpose of today’s test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected,” a statement from the company reads.
SpaceX has been building the Starship as the perfect vehicle to transport people and cargo to space. The rocket is designed to be reusable, so the company can launch it and land back and forth several times.
SpaceX has endured several failures in the past, so this one shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The rocket manufacturing process is rather finicky, and for a company that’s bringing innovation to what is an unstable industry at best, certain failures are expected.
However, engineers have also informed the company that they have turned their focus to a newer and faster rocker design, which they dubbed the Mark-3. What this means for the initial Starship Mark-1 design remains to be seen.
In a tweet after the Starship Mark-1 incident, SpaceX boss Elon Musk shared that the rocket “had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder,” although they will now be taking a different approach with a different prototype design.
Absolutely, but to move to Mk3 design. This had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder, but flight design is quite different.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2019
SpaceX Is Rolling on with the Starlink Project
The company has also had some success with rocket launches of late. Earlier this month, it successfully launched its first batch of 60 operational satellites, which form part of its plane Starlink mega constellation, a mission to cover the Earth in about 42,000 satellites and beam Internet around the world.
At about 9.56 A.M. Eastern Time on November 11, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with the satellites on board. The flight, which the company dubbed Starlink-1, was the first time they launched fully operational satellites. The previous launch, which was in May 2019, saw 60 prototype satellites launched.
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