Though it remains unclear exactly what caused the explosion, in a livestream of the event from LabPadre it looks like a gas leak begins about a minute after engine shutdown, followed by a massive fireball that quickly engulfs the prototype and appears to damage the test site.
Shortly before 3 p.m. ET on Friday, the Starship SN4 prototype underwent a ground-level trial of its Raptor engine known as a static-fire test at the company's development facility near Boca Chica, Texas.
We know that most of those Starship prototypes have actually exploded, but the CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, stated that they want to learn from every test and that they will work on them until they make them better.
A SpaceX launch vehicle prototype burst into flames during a test at a Texas launch pad Friday afternoon - a day before the company hopes to send two NASA astronauts into space on another craft in Florida, according to reports and footage of the explosion.
To be clear, the Starship SN4 prototype involved in this failed test isn't related to SpaceX's historic launch scheduled for this weekend. Starship's small external appearance is an optical illusion stemming from the kind of stainless steel SpaceX uses to build the new rocket.
SpaceX was among the three companies awarded a combined $1bn by Nasa last month to develop rocket systems capable of ferrying cargo and humans to the moon. On May 28 th, the Federal Aviation Administration approved Space X a certificate to carry out "suborbital reusable launch vehicle missions" with the lorry out of BocaChica The FAA additionally positioned air limitations over the launch website for June 1st, stopping automobiles from flying listed below 26,000 feet over the location. It's already the third prototype to explode this year.
The failure comes days after SpaceX had to abort the blastoff of their Falcon 9 rocket, in what would have been the first manned launch from U.S. soil in nine years.
This isn't the first time one of SpaceX's Starship prototypes has met a catastrophic end; a couple of previous test vehicles succumbed to pressure testing while being put through their paces.
This particular Starship got further along in the testing process than the others.
This comes as two astronauts prepare to launch into orbit in the spaceflight company's crewed mission tomorrow after bad weather delayed the initial launch. SpaceX has backup days on through Sunday (May 30) before likely standing down for a few days, NASA officials have said.