SpaceX’s Starship Raptor rocket engine explodes during testing

As SpaceX was preparing for the fourth Starship flight at its facilities in Boca Chica, Texas, a Starship Raptor engine appears to have burned up at SpaceX’s rocket engine test site in McGregor, also in Texas.

Local media reported a powerful explosion during the test, with flames engulfing the tower. So far, there have been no reports of an accident from SpaceX. The NASASpaceflight TV channel broadcast the incident live.

The test started a little after 4:12 p.m. local time and seemed to be going well. When the smoke cleared 14 seconds after ignition, the engine shut down and the test seemed to be over. However, immediately after that, fire began to emanate from the lower part of the pad, where the rocket engine nozzle emits flames. During the test, flames characteristic of the Raptor were observed in this area. The new flames were orange and moving upward before the explosion engulfed the entire structure. Despite the incident, Elon Musk said that the fourth Starship flight will take place in 10 days.

Unlike most rocketry companies that produce a fixed number of engines for specific future rockets, SpaceX is a rich company. Before a rocket engine is installed on a Falcon 9, Starship Super Heavy, or Starship, it undergoes qualification testing at SpaceX’s McGregor facility. Rocket engines can be distinguished by their exhaust. While the Merlin exhaust for the Falcon Heavy is orange, the Raptor’s exhaust is cleaner and has a blue tint. Raptor engines are a completely new design created specifically for Starship, using methane as fuel.

SpaceX often upgrades Raptor engines while they are waiting to be installed on the Starship booster. Raptor 2 engines are currently in use. They are characterized by greater traction and a less complex design. The Raptor is designed to use Mars resources, including liquid methane, as fuel. It is much more powerful than the Falcon 9 and Merlin engines.

Source itc
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