SpaceX prototype explodes at Texas test site

Test unrelated to SpaceX crewed NASA launch

A SpaceX prototype exploded in a large fireball at a company test site in Texas Friday.

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The explosion was recorded by the SPadre livestream. It occurred at 1:49 p.m. local time.

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The prototype spacecraft, which appeared to be destroyed in the blast, is unrelated to the SpaceX Crew Dragon slated to launch in the company’s first crewed mission Saturday. A Crew Dragon is scheduled to lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. SpaceX has already launched its Dragon spacecraft without humans aboard many times before.

But it was a new Starship involved in the explosion Friday. SpaceX is developing that spacecraft to send humans to the Moon for NASA. Eventually, the company says it intends to send its Starships to Mars as well.

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The 394-foot-tall spacecraft will include a reusable Starship and a Super Heavy booster rocket. It will be capable of carrying more than 100 tons into space, according to SpaceX.

The Starship is one of three spacecraft being developed by private companies for NASA’s Artemis program moon missions, which are aimed to begin in 2024. The companies – SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics – have until February 2021 to refine their landers before NASA will select which it wants to continue developing.

Artist concept of the SpaceX Starship on the surface of the moon. (SpaceX via NASA)

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This is not the first Starship destroyed during testing, The Verge reported. Three other prototypes exploded or imploded during pressurized tests.

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