Developing a rocket for space travel is never easy, but the trick is not to give up. SpaceX’s Starship booster that exploded during testing earlier this week will likely return to the launch pad.
The space exploration company suffered a setback to its plans for the first orbital flight of its next-gen Starship rocket when a prototype Booster 7 burst into flame. It was equipped with a full complement of the 33 version 2 Raptor engines in the updated design. The crew had been just seconds into the test when a large explosion happened.
CEO Elon Musk initially said on Twitter that the explosion was expected but deleted the tweet, after which he posted SpaceX crew was assessing the damage.
However, the damaged Super Heavy prototype may still make the cut for the much-awaited orbital test flight. As Musk told Reuters in an email, “Damage is minor, but booster will be transferred back to the high bay for inspections, returning to the launch stand probably next week.”
Musk confirmed on Twitter that the orbital flight test is still on track for next month, depending on how well testing goes.
The Federal Aviation Administration has said it would be in touch with SpaceX but would not open a formal investigation into the incident.
The Starship is SpaceX’s reusable spacecraft that Musk plans to use to take humans to Mars who would live there permanently. The rocket is in two stages; the upper stage, also known as the Ship or Starship, and the lower stage or booster, also known as the Super Heavy. Both stages are reusable, unlike the company’s line of Falcon rockets. However, the US military is also considering using the Starship in its operation.
SpaceX is developing and testing the Starship at its Boca Chica facility in Texas.