Explosions, fireballs and failed landings: all the Starship tests that ended badly

By 20/04/2023 Portal

Although we are used to space launches going well (the vast majority of times they take off), the truth is that SpaceX has a long history of failed tests, especially those related to its Starship megarocket. This vehicle, designed by the company of the always controversial Elon Musk, is one of its most ambitious projects: apart from being the largest and most powerful ever built, it aims to be the totally reusable ship with which humanity returns to the Moon, travels first time to Mars and even explore space beyond. Related News standard No Elon Musk's Starship rocket explodes in the air shortly after taking off Patricia Biosca The vehicle has managed to rise from the launch pad, but has been unable to separate its two stages, which have ended up exploding in the sky Comments like "We should not wait for the success of this test" or "no matter what happens, excitement is guaranteed", already hinted that the tycoon did not have much hope that the first Starship flight test would go well. Perhaps because it is not the first time that he has seen his ships enveloped in explosions, fireballs and smoke: about half of the tests have not ended as expected, although Musk always emphasizes that success lies in data collection, that allow them to carry out improvements for the next prototype. Finally, the rocket managed to take off, but a few minutes later it ended up exploding in the sky. It is not the first time: here is a summary of the explosions of the Starship prototypes. Starship MK1 and SN1: 'baptism' of fire The first Starship prototypes, MK1 and SN1, exploded during pressure tests of the tanks, while they were filled with liquid nitrogen. In the case of the SN1, the midsection of the prototype bent, then shot upward before crashing to the ground. Starship SN3: collapse like a demolished building Although SN2 was a success, we did not have to wait long, until SN3, for a new Starship explosion: during the same cryogenic pressure test the new prototype could not withstand the cold of the load, and ended up collapsing, reminiscent of a recently demolished building. Starship SN4: the first big explosion On May 29, 2020, Starship SN4 failed its fire test - pun intended - and exploded in a ball of flames after an engine test. The failure occurred just one minute after igniting its powerful Raptor rocket. On this occasion, Musk was also optimistic, ensuring that, with each test - even the failed ones - the company continues to advance and learn. Even so, SN4 was the longest-lived prototype to date: it endured five engine tests (although without taking off) without exploding. Starship SN7: intentional explosion The SN7 prototype also exploded, although it was something sought after by the company, which tested this rocket in June 2020 twice: the first showed a leak; the second ended in flames. Musk said the fact that it didn't explode the first time was a promising development for the program. Starship SN8: the first to fly, but not to land successfully The SN8 prototype made a spectacular flight on December 9, 2020, successfully reaching several milestones. However, the landing did not go so well, and it ended up exploding in an impressive fireball. The prototype was launched at an altitude of approximately 12.5 kilometers, using three Raptor engines. Starship SN9: one step further, but without soft landing Starship SN9 reached higher than its predecessor and managed to perform a horizontal turn simulating its re-entry. However, the landing was not smooth at all, and it ended up exploding (once again). Starship SN10: managed to land, but ended up in flames Like its predecessors - SN8 and SN9 -, SN10 rose more than ten meters, made a turn and finally managed to land. However, seconds after this maneuver, which took place on March 7, 2021, flames appeared at the base of the rocket, which also ended up exploding. Musk explained on that occasion that the ship also rushed at landing speed, which crushed the legs of the platform along with part of the rocket skirt, which led to the final explosion. Starship SN11: The last explosion On March 30, 2021, Starship SN11 took off in thick fog. Perhaps the bad weather was already predicting its cruel end: after rising ten kilometers above the ground, six minutes into the flight, its onboard cameras suddenly turned off. It exploded on the landing platform, as can be seen even after the intense fog of that day. "Something happened shortly after the landing burn began," Musk wrote via Twitter. "We should know what it was once we can examine the fragments later today." We had to wait until March 2021 to see SN15 land without exploding (although with a slight fire at the end that, for once, did not end in tragedy). That was their last big test before SN24's orbital speed flight. Almost twenty prototypes, half of them destroyed during testing. Musk's ambition At 120 meters, Starship is the largest rocket in the world. Also the most powerful, since it is powered by 33 Raptor engines in the tail plus another six in the first stage, which will generate twice the force of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket, used in the Artemis program and, which At the moment, he holds the record. MORE INFORMATION news No A new study may have finally found out what exactly the 'Tully monster' was news Yes Scientists, concerned after detecting a 'leak' of liquid at the bottom of the sea In fact, the idea is to use Starship to carry the Artemis 3 astronauts to set foot on the Moon again, in addition to using it for at least three private space flights, two of them to transport passengers around our satellite.