SpaceX's Starship Mk1 rocket ship blew its top during a cryogenic pressure test Wednesday (20 November) one day after Mk1's testing began.
SpaceX founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Twitter the company will now focus on creating prototypes that are more advanced then try to fix the Mk1. The comments were in reply to a Twitter user who said the accident with the Mk1 is a good time to move on to more advanced versions.
Starship MK-1 appears to have blown its top off during a pressure test today. My guess... this will be a good time for @spacex to move onto their next, more refined and higher quality versions (MK-2/3) instead of reparing MK-1. @elonmusk, any chance you’ll just move onto MK-3?— Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) November 20, 2019
Absolutely, but to move to Mk3 design. This had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder, but flight design is quite different.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2019
The anomaly occurred at SpaceX's South Texas facilities. Officials at SpaceX told Space.com the results were not unexpected given the purpose of the test was to "pressurize systems to the max."
SpaceX said there were no injuries and it doesn't view it as a setback. "As Elon tweeted, Mk1 served as a valuable manufacturing pathfinder but flight design is quite different. The decision had already been made to not fly this test article and the team is focused on the Mk3 builds, which are designed for orbit," SpaceX told Space.com.
Mk1 was supposed to engage in uncrewed tests
Musk had previously said the Mk1 would undergo uncrewed test flights hitting altitudes of 12 miles. He targeted the end of 2019 for those tests but with this week's failure its back to the drawing board.
Aiming for 20km flight in Oct & orbit attempt shortly thereafter. Starship update will be on Sept 28th, anniversary of SpaceX reaching orbit. Starship Mk 1 will be fully assembled by that time.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2019
The Starship Mk2 is already being constructed at SpaceX's Florida facilities and is equipped with the company's Raptor engines. Ultimately the rocket will be equipped with five Raptor engines as it makes its journey from Earth. It also just recently begun construction on SpaceX's third rocket.