SpaceX's Prototype Starship Caught Fire During Ground Tests

SpaceX's Prototype Starship Caught Fire During Ground Tests

Via Twitter yesterday, Musk said the eruption of flames was due to a post-test fuel leak, though the vehicle suffered no major damage as a result and the company is planning for a hover test next week.

SpaceX has been calling it "Starhopper", and it is a smaller-scale version of the Starship craft that the company is now developing.

While a few key SpaceX projects are working through minor setbacks, on Tuesday a hold-down test firing of a single-engine SpaceX Starship prototype ended with an unexpected fireball. Recently completed a not very successful engine test of its prototype Starhopper. Technicians began making the launch pad safe on Wednesday morning, but the fire forced that day's scheduled flight tests to be postponed.

An artist rendition of Starship on a future flight in space. 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.

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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. So far this year, SpaceX has sought more than $1.3 billion across three funding rounds, CNBC reported in June.

"Big advantage of being made of high strength stainless steel: not bothered by a little heat!" he wrote.

Musk is thinking bigger, and perhaps faster: "Well, this is gonna sound pretty insane ... with an un-crewed vehicle, I believe we could land on the moon in two years", he told Kluger. "I would say for four years [from this moment], not more", said Musk in a recent interview to Time magazine.

A fireball erupted from the base of SpaceX's prototype rocket minutes after a key test at the company's facility in Boca Chica, Texas.