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SpaceX Starship SN8 Exploded After Minutes In The Air

Space X has launched its first SpaceX Starship SN8 prototype on Wednesday in Texas. The rocket lifted to a high altitude with no major problems. However, after only a couple of minutes in the air, the SN8 exploded as it attempted to land. Cause? Most likely a technical issue in the Raptor engine. 

Everything was going well for the Starship prototype until the rocket began its preparation for landing. The video that circulated the internet on Thursday morning shows that the rocket’s descent began as controlled, however, it quickly caught fire and disappeared in the raging flames. 

7 Minutes And 12,500 Meters

The whole test lasted under 7 minutes. Initially, the rocket was meant to reach an altitude of 12, 500 meters. While the first reports doubted whether it has achieved that, the latest news report that it has, indeed, reached the desired 12,5 kilometers. Wednesday was the second day of testing, with the initial attempt to launch the rocket a day earlier. However, an issue with a Raptor engine was detected by the system Tuesday. Thus, one second before the planned launch, an automatic abort occurred. 

Musk Thrilled With The Result Of The Test

The main figure at SpaceX, Elon Musk, appeared thrilled, even though the test ended with a dramatic explosion. He tweeted “Mars, here we come!!” and stated that the company has all the data they needed.

Elon Musk’s Ecstatic Tweet After The Dramatic Test Flight

Must Explain What Went Wrong Under The Short Test Flight

Musk has also used his official Twitter account to briefly explain what went wrong with the test flight. He wrote that the “fuel header tank pressure was low”, as the Starship prototype prepared for landing, “causing touchdown velocity to be high”. Hence, causing the SN8 explosion.

Elon Musk’s Tweet After The Test Flight On Wednesday


The Starship prototype is a 16-story-tall  rocket that is in the future expected to be able to carry up to 100 tons of cargo to the moon or Mars. As The Guardian reports, SpaceX’s project to develop the Starship SN8 prototype has even been funded by Nasa, with the amount of $135 million. 

Musk has warned that an unplanned disassembly was fully possible long before the tests.

Raptor Engine Issues

Shortly before the fight started, one of the three Raptor engines stopped firing. A few minutes later, the second Raptor engine shut down and eventually, the final Raptor did too. That is when the rocket began to free-fall back to Earth. According to Musk, each of the shutdowns of the Raptor engines was intentional. However, that did not stop the rocket from reaching the scheduled height of 12.5 kilometers.

Unfortunately, the burn that was scheduled to slow down the prototype on its way down and allow for the safe landing did not do its job efficiently, hence the explosion, as reported by CNet.

Many Companies Planning To Make Their Mark In Space Travel

SpaceX has also recently been acquiring properties in a village on the outskirts of the US-Mexico border in Texas to make room for Starship facilities to come

Having said that, SpaceX is not the only company actively performing tests to find the most affordable, safe, and efficient ways for space travel. The company has two main competitors. One is Blue Origin, owned by no other than Jeff Bezos himself. The other major competitor is Dynetcis owned by Leidos. 

So, what is next on SpaceX’s agenda? Considering that Musk appears delighted by Wednesday’s test, despite the final, the company will try to test flight their next Starship prototype, SN9, as they continue on their quest to be the first company to fly people to Mars. 


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