SpaceX encountered a problem during a test of the Starship, its future launch vehicle. A test at the level of the motorization of the ground floor caused a violent explosion.

In Elon Musk’s language, this is the type of event that could have given a “RUD”: Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly or Rapid Unplanned Disassembly. This would give a translation in French like “rapid and unforeseen disassembly” or “rapid and unforeseen disassembly”. With this acronym, the American entrepreneur pointed out the setbacks of the Starship SN9 test.

And it’s exactly a “RUD” that SpaceX almost experienced while attempting to launch the first stage of its future Starship launcher. After all, a RUD is only a modest expression for the fact that it has exploded. The test, conducted on July 11, 2022, ended with a powerful explosion, with a fire breaking out at the level of the first floor of the spacecraft.

An engine test

A video uploaded by NASASpaceflight on July 12 shows the problems of Booster #7 from different angles. The explosion took place under the stage during engine-level testing – Starship’s first stage, dubbed Super Heavy, will eventually be powered by 33 Raptor engines to pry the rocket out of Earth’s gravity.

The damage sustained to the booster facility and surrounding facilities has yet to be assessed. On Twitter Elon Musk just commented in response to the video shared by NASASpaceflight: Yes indeed [ce n’est] not good. The team assesses the damage. » The floor does not appear to have been badly damaged, but ancillary equipment may have been destroyed, like oxygen line.

SpaceX spaceship
The spaceship when assembled with the upper stage and lower stage. // Source: SpaceX

It is expected that SpaceX will regularly encounter difficulties during its tests, as they are designed precisely to iron out the launcher’s weaknesses before it is deployed. That’s the real meaning of these tests: uncovering poor workmanship and flaws so as not to have them on D-Day. This is exactly why NASA passed their Space Launch System test.

SpaceX would like to make a first orbital flight with the spacecraft in 2022, but the first planned dates, in January and then in May, could not be met. This schedule was probably too ambitious. Uncertainty remains on the American company’s schedule for the time being. And with the misfires that occurred during the test of Booster #7, the blur thickened.

(article update)

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