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The year of 2019 has not been very kind to SpaceX so far. Back in April, the company lost one of its new Crew Dragon capsules when an explosion occurred during a static firing test of their In-Flight Abort test vehicle. Earlier this week, the company revealed that they had determined the cause of the explosion, saying that it was due to a nitrogen tetroxide leak that occurred just prior to the final test.
And now, just a few days later, another accident has occurred, this time involving the Starhopper test vehicle. Once again, a fire occurred shortly after the vehicle conducted an engine test; fortunately, it resulted in no injuries. However, the Starhopper appears to have come through the fire completely unscathed, though it might cause a slight delay with the vehicle’s scheduled hop tests.
Evening - Tuesday - July - Company - South
It all began on the evening of Tuesday, July 16th, at the company’s South Texas Launch Site in Boca Chica, Texas. While the crews were test firing the prototype Raptor engine, a sudden fire resulted. About four minutes later, a second small explosion engulfed the test model in flames for a few seconds. The crew quickly extinguished the flames, but the incident sparked a good deal of concern.
Namely, there were worries that this accident could postpone the inaugural flight of the Starship vehicle and Super Heavy rocket (aka. the BFR). This super-heavy launch system is Musk’s proposed means of sending crews and payloads to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), to the Moon, and to Mars. The Raptor engine is essential to that plan since the design of the BFR calls for 31 Raptors on the Super Heavy and 7 on the Starship.
Starhopper - Test - Vehicle - Raptor - Engine
The Starhopper test vehicle is equipped with one Raptor engine and is set to perform a series of “hop” tests in the coming weeks and months....
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