Early this morning SpaceX lost its third Starship prototype during a cryogenic test at the company’s Boca Chica launch site. The third prototype namely SN3 was loaded at ambient temperature with Nitrogen for a pressure test on Wednesday. At that moment of time, the vehicle performed fine but later on Thursday night when the crew loaded it again with nitrogen but this time it failed to begin and came into a flight like pressure and temperature which resulted in its complete meltdown on top of itself.
It was around 2 am local time when the SN3 exploded and reports suggest that this might be due to heavy pressure at the top of the vehicle. Shortly after the failure of this third Starship prototype, SpaceX founder and chief engineer, Elon Musk twitted, “We will see what data review says in the morning, but this may have been a test configuration mistake.”
— Austin Barnard🚀 (@austinbarnard45) April 3, 2020
This continuous failure of this Starship during proof tests projects an idea towards problems during the engine and the flight test. The cause of fire at the top will be investigated by the SpaceX.
The Verge reports that this third prototype was already creating some trouble in behavior prior to the test which ultimately took its life. Before this pressure test Musk took this to Twitter to explain that “Some valves leaked at cryo temp” and “the crew is fixing and & will retest soon.” And the restest was the last one on this prototype.
This is not the first time when the prototype failed during the flight test, back in November 2019 a similar Starship prototype lost his life during the test on which the SpaceX mentioned that it was pressurizing its system “to the max.”
My friend, you might be aware of the dream of exploring the space linked with this Starship spacecraft. And with this prototype, the company is planning to make it efficient to reach Mars and to some new planets where life can be discovered.
After the SN1 failure, Musk asked his engineers, “In the future, you treat that rocket like it’s your baby, and you do not send it to the test site unless you think your baby’s going to be ok.” But this time as well the baby lost its life.
Now’s let’s take a recap when this mission of Starship began and how it lead to failure again and again:
Starship Mk1: Starship Mk1, formerly known as Starship Hopper came under construction in December 2018 and it ended up with an explosion on the top of the Starship on November 21, 2019.
Starship SN1: The construction for the SN1 began in October 2019 and this spacecraft lost its life on February 28 due to high pressure while performing under a pressure test.
Starship SN2: The SN2 was tested in early march during implement of tests and the spacecraft lost its life after it catches fire at the base of the rocket.
Starship SN3: Now the Starship SN3 catches fire at the top of the rocket during a test done by the crew on April 3, 2020.
The fourth attempt towards this dream to explore new orbits of the universe is expected in late April. With more than 3 failures during the engine and flight test of this rocket, the crew will keep the key points of failure in focus to avoid failure. The successful test of this SN4 will lead to a new path for the SpaceX to entre in the world outside Earth.