A prototype launch vehicle for SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft burst into flames during a test in Texas. With that, SpaceX owner and Tesla founder Elon Musk has arguably suffered a setback in his goal of launching the next-generation Starship spacecraft into orbit later this year.
“Yeah, not good actually. Team assessing damage,” Musk tweeted. The explosion was livestreamed on the Nasa Spaceflight news site, which, despite the name, is not affiliated with Nasa. In the future, there will be no test of all 33 engines at once, Musk announced.
The prototype was apparently only damaged in the explosion, not destroyed. There shouldn’t be any injuries either. The consequences for the further development of the booster, but also for the entire Starship project, have not yet been clarified.
Starship is considered the largest planned rocket in the world to date, and Elon Musk presented the prototype in 2019. According to the technology magazine “Heise”, the plan is that the rocket can transport 150 tons into space in the future and can be used again.
Originally, the first rocket was supposed to fly into orbit in July, the second would have followed in August. An early launch is also significant for SpaceX itself to launch the next generation of its Starlink satellites, which received attention during the Ukraine war, among other things.