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SpaceX Starship prototype fails pressure test in Texas, sending vehicle flying

The failure is part of the company’s test-fail-fix philosophy

On left: A worker in Boca Chica, Texas next to SpaceX's Starship prototype MK 1. On right: a close up of the same person. (Image credit: Robin Seemangal/Supercluster.com)
On left: A worker in Boca Chica, Texas next to SpaceX's Starship prototype MK 1. On right: a close up of the same person. (Image credit: Robin Seemangal/Supercluster.com)

A prototype of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship vehicle suffered an anomaly during testing late Friday, sending a stainless steel cylinder flying off its Texas stand, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.

During live video captured by a Boca Chica resident near SpaceX's operations, the version of Starship known as SN1 could be seen during a pressurization test around 10 p.m. Friday. But before it could be completed, the prototype failed to contain the liquid nitrogen, sending the cylinder flying off its stand and crashing to leave behind a mangled pile of stainless steel.

The video was captured for nasaspaceflight.com and posted on YouTube.

The failure, while a setback for SpaceX, is part of the company's test-fail-fix philosophy. This version of the Starship prototype was slated to fly from the Texas site, but only on a short sub-orbital flight.

Back at SpaceX's home state of California, meanwhile, SpaceX recently secured permission to begin construction of Starships at the Port of Los Angeles. Along with efforts at Boca Chica, CEO Elon Musk says the company is betting on Starship to secure his ambitions of putting people on Mars.

Once production of full-scale Starships is underway, the vehicle is slated to launch from the Texas launch site and Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A. The Super Heavy booster, also under development, will be its ride to orbit.