SpaceX has conducted a static fire test of the Rapture engine in its Starship SN4 prototype launch vehicle on Friday. However, the test vehicle exploded on the test stand in Boca Chica, Texas. Four tests have been already conducted and this was the fifth static fire test of this engine on this prototype vehicle. The SN4 prototype exploded shortly after what initially appeared to be a successful static-fire test. SpaceX has received a launch license for its Starship tests from the Federal Aviation Administration on the same day.
This happened just a day before SpaceX is set to perform an unrelated launch for NASA. The launch will send two astronauts to the International Space Station. It has lost three previous test versions of the vehicle during pressurized tests that either caused the vehicles to burst or implode.
Starship SN4 static fire test
At 1:49 PM local time, the explosion occurred under the two-minute mark after the static fire test. The Senior Space Editor, Eric Berger stated the cause of the explosion was ‘some type of uncontrolled leak’. There seems to be significant damage to the test site. The vehicle was destroyed in the test. However, there is no official word from SpaceX on what exactly went wrong and it is still unclear whether anyone was hurt in the explosion or not.
SN4 is the fourth Starship prototype that has been destroyed in testing in six months. SN4 is a prototype for the company’s Starship rocket that will ferry astronauts to the moon and Mars soon.
SpaceX had received clearance from the FAA to conduct suborbital flight tests with the Starship prototype and is also working on additional prototypes which include assembling SN5 nearby in Boca Chica. SpaceX can resume its testing program quickly after clearing the test stand.
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