SpaceX Starship prototype suffers testing mishap in Texas, video shows
Similar spaceship underdevelopment in Cocoa, Fla.
A prototype of SpaceX’s Starship spaceship suffered an anomaly while undergoing testing Wednesday in Texas, according to video from Lab Padre.
The Starship prototype MK1 was at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas undergoing a pressure test around 4:30 p.m. when the nosecone of the spaceship suffered a mishap and began to smoke, according to the video.
SpaceX said in a statement that no one was injured and said the incident was “not a serious setback.”
“The purpose of today’s test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected," the company said in an email following the test.
SpaceX is developing two versions of its interplanetary spaceship: one in Texas, known as MK1, and one in Florida, known as MK2.
The prototype likely never would have reached space but would be used to test the hardware and development of the spaceship.
SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk responded to reports of the incident on Twitter.
“To move to Mk3 design,” Musk said in a tweet. “This had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder, but flight design is quite different.”
“As Elon tweeted, Mk1 served as a valuable manufacturing pathfinder but flight design is quite different,” SpaceX said in a statement. "The decision had already been made to not fly this test article and the team is focused on the Mk3 builds, which are designed for orbit. "
During an October visit to SpaceX headquarters, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Musk talked about the commercial company’s aggressive and effective testing methods.
"One of the things SpaceX is really good at doing, in fact, you could say, maybe the best, is fly, test, fix,” Bridenstine said. “It is a way to iteratively make development changes very fast and, in fact, to fail fast. Fail fast and then fix.”
“I think there’s a fundamental principle of make sure you fail on the test stand so you do not fail in flight,” Musk said.
SpaceX recently welcomed reporters to the Texas site to view the progress on Mk1 and provide an update on Starship development.
At that event, Musk said the 180-foot-tall MK 1 Starship will fly 65,000 feet and land in one to two months in the first of a series of test flights or “hops.”
Musk also said SpaceX plans to begin building a third spaceship, Starship Mk 3, by the end of the year.
"We are going to be building both ships and boosters both at Boca and the Cape," Musk said, adding the rate at which SpaceX will build spaceships "will be quite crazy by space standards."
Musk said he could see reaching orbit in less than six months. He also said the first crewed flight could happen from the Texas site and not Kennedy Space Center.
Eventually, SpaceX plans to launch and land Starship using a Super Heavy booster from Kennedy Space Center.
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