The first beta test of Elon Musk's "Starship" Mark 1 prototype didn't quite go exactly as planned unless, of course, the plan was for it to explode on the launch pad. The prototype, which was built as a "pathfinder for SpaceX's planned human-rated Starship rocket" literally saw its top explode during a pressurization test on Wednesday, according to CBS and - well, video that shows exactly that.
The winged rocket stage, which was being tested without its conical nose, sat upright on its stand releasing all kinds of smoke and vapor into the air after a tank ruptured. We're sure Mr. Save-The-Environment-Musk will soon assure us that nothing toxic was released into the air as a result, right?
"It appeared that a lower bulkhead might have failed as well," CBS noted in its obituary of the ship.
SpaceX amusingly played it off by saying it "wasn't a serious setback" and - wait for it - that the outcome was "not unexpected".
"The purpose of today's test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected. There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback," SpaceX said. SpaceX also said that despite Musk's earlier comments about the prototype, they had made a decision not to fly the Mark 1.
Sure - we MEANT to do that!
Musk had previously said of the prototype: "This thing is going to take off, fly to 65,000 feet, about 20 kilometers, and come back and land in about one to two months. So that giant thing, it's going to be pretty epic to see that thing take off and come back. ... It's wild."
The Mark 1 is intended to eventually carry passengers and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon and Mars. It is powered by six methane burning Raptor engines and requires a huge booster called the "Super Heavy" to reach orbit. It is slated to eventually be about 400 feet tall is expected to replace SpaceX's entire fleet of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.
Have to get it off the ground first, though, Elon. We think Charley Grant of the Wall Street Journal said it best:
It was a beautiful Silo. Gone too soon. https://t.co/n8WHzHee1m— Charley Grant (@CGrantWSJ) November 20, 2019