We now know the reason for the latest SpaceX Starship The prototype caught fire last week.
The stainless steel car, known as SN11 (“Serial Number 11”), was fired at A. Test flight last Tuesday (March 30) from SpaceX’s facilities in southern Texas, near the village of Boca Chica on the Gulf Coast.
The SN11 rose to a maximum altitude of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) as planned, and the 165 feet (50 meters) vehicle has checked a number of crates in the road as well. But SN11 didn’t commit to landing, it just blew up in a huge fireball – due to a plumbing problem, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk Announced today (April 5).
“The ascent, transition to landscape and control during freefall were good. The (relatively) small methane gas leak caused a fire in the engine 2 and the frying part of the avionics, causing a difficult start to the attempted landing of the CH4 turbine pump. This is fixed. 6 ways to Sunday Musk said on Twitter today.
CH4 is methane, the propellant fuel for Raptor’s next-generation SpaceX powerful engine. The term “hard start” refers to ignition when there is a lot of fuel in the combustion chamber, so the pressure is very high – this is not a good thing for any engine.
SpaceX It is developing the Starship to transport people and cargo to the Moon, Mars, and other distant destinations. The transport system consists of two components, both of which will be completely reusable: the Starship spacecraft and the super heavy enhanced first stage vehicle.
The Starship and Super Heavy will both be powered by the Raptors – six in the Final Starship and about 30 for the Super Heavy, Musk said. The SN11 wore three Raptors, as did each of its three predecessors, the SN8, SN9, and SN10, which took off 6-mile test flights in December, February and early March, respectively.
All four flights were pretty much the same, with the prototypes performing well through to the end. The SN10 even landed in one piece, in fact, however It exploded after about eight minutes.
SpaceX will continue to attempt to land properly. The company has already built the Starship’s next prototype, known as SN15, and it should take off into the sky soon. (Yes, SpaceX goes straight from SN11 to SN15.)
Mike Wall is the author ofAbroad“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; drawing by Karl Tate), a book on the search for an alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.