Another SpaceX Starship Prototype Blows Up

Written by Jennifer Clark
Posted March 31, 2021

On Tuesday, SpaceX’s SN11 Starship prototype exploded about six minutes into its high-altitude journey, sending debris raining down in the area. The Starship SN11 lifted off around 9 a.m. EST from the company’s Boca Chica, Texas test site. It wasn't exactly the lift-off the company was hoping for, especially after having mishaps with other Starship prototypes.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted about the exploded SN11 saying:

Looks like engine 2 had issues on ascent & didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed.

He added:

Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start. Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today. 

The company lost its SN10 Starship prototype when it touched down successfully after a high-altitude test flight on March 3, but exploded about eight minutes after landing. So the company has suffered a bit of a setback with the explosion of SN11 before it could even attempt to land. Usually, a subsequent prototype fixes the problems of the previous prototype. 

This is the fourth Starship prototype from the company. The others were lost either on landing or shortly after landing. SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft is being designed with the intention to carry both a crew and cargo into Earth orbit, to the moon, Mars, and beyond. The company claims that the Starship “will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth.”

According to SpaceX’s website, by 2023, Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and the crew of dearMoon will become the first civilian passengers on a lunar Starship mission. The company describes it as a “fly-by of the moon during their week-long journey.” 

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Under the description of the mission on the company’s website, you will see that the company is “currently accepting applications” for eight civilians to join this first private lunar mission. The Starship is intended to make this mission possible, so SpaceX has less than two years to perfect this vessel and make sure that it can complete the dearMoon mission.

After the SN11 explosion, Elon Musk logged on to Twitter to plead for engineers, technicians, and other experts to consider moving to South Padre, Texas to work for SpaceX. Musk moved to the state late last year, which could have been the result of California forcing his other company, Tesla, to close its U.S. car factory because of COVID-19 restrictions. Musk has become extremely critical of how the state was handling the pandemic. 

Musk has pledged to donate $20 million to Cameron County schools and $10 million to the City of Brownsville to revitalize its downtown area, making schools and infrastructure more appealing and, thus, aiding in recruiting top talent to the area. It appears that Musk is going all-in on Texas and hoping that top talent follows him with SpaceX’s mission. 
If Musk is going to have the Starship ready for the first civilian passenger trip to the moon by 2023, he's going to need a lot more help.

Until next time, 

Jennifer Clark
Pro Trader Today

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