Rocket booster bursts into flames at SpaceX plant during test firing


(Reuters) – A booster rocket developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX for its next-generation Starship spacecraft burst into flames during a ground-test firing on Monday in Texas, dealing a probable setback to Musk’s purpose of launching Starship to orbit later this yr.

“Yeah, really not good. Team is assessing injury,” Musk tweeted after the early night explosion of the Super Heavy Booster 7 prototype, as seen in a livestream recorded by the web site NASA Spaceflight. There was no speedy indication of accidents.

It was not clear what triggered the explosion, which engulfed the bottom of the rocket in a ball of flames and heavy smoke and appeared to shake the video digital camera, although the booster remained standing upright, bolted to test gantry afterward.

The failure occurred within the midst of a dayslong static fireplace test marketing campaign in Boca Chica, Texas, of the booster, which is provided with an array of 33 Raptor engines to be used in an upcoming uncrewed orbital test flight SpaceX hoped to conduct later this yr.

SpaceX’s full Starship, which is able to stand 394 toes (120 meters) tall when mated with its super-heavy first-stage booster, is the corporate’s next-generation launch automobile at the middle of Musk’s ambitions to make human area journey extra reasonably priced and routine.

SpaceX didn’t reply to a Reuters request for remark when requested about Monday’s blast.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) additionally didn’t reply when requested if it will examine the explosion.

In late 2020 and early 2021, SpaceX misplaced 4 prototypes of the Starship itself in a collection of high-altitude test launches by which the return touchdown makes an attempt led to explosions. The Starship prototype lastly nailed a protected landing in May 2021.

(Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington and Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Gorman and Neil Fullick)

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