SpaceX on brink: Starship’s horror collapse under pressure before launch exposed

But ahead of another milestone achieved in Elon Musk’s Starship plan, unearthed reports reveal how the firm was once left reeling after its SN3 spacecraft appeared to collapse under pressure in what may have been a “configuration mistake”. In April, Mr Musk set about testing its then latest prototype of the Starship vehicle in Texas. The vessel is designed to be able to colonise Mars, while tackling other heavy-lift deep-space missions to collect data in our bid to understand life outside our plant.

Before that launch, SpaceX and Mr Musk had spent a year developing different prototypes of the vehicle, which would eventually carry out its full missions, including a miniature Starhopper.

However, the SN3 tested earlier this year crumbled under the pressure during numerous tests, which culminated in short “hopping” flights.

And Mr Musk was concerned over exactly what had happened to the machine.

In a series of tweets, he wrote: “We will see what data review says in the morning, but this may have been a test configuration mistake.

“Some valves leaked at cryo temp. Fixing & will retest soon.”

Footage captured close to SpaceX’s Starship hub in Boca Chica, Texas, appeared to back up the claims that the SN3 succumbed to the pressure it was being put under.

At the time, it was the third Starship prototype to be severely damaged during testing.

The first edition called Starship Mk1 was lost as a result of a failed pressure test in November 2019, while the second instalment – called Starship SN1 – was destroyed in another pressure test in February.

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There were positives during this period, though, as the subsequent prototype – Starship SN2 – withstood the exact same pressure test just weeks later.

Back in April, the SN3’s failed test saw Mr Musk continue in his endeavours to create a vehicle that would reach as high as 12 miles above Earth’s surface.

Fast-forward to June and SpaceX appears on a brilliant trajectory again following its four recent launches.

This launch will see Starlink satellites go into space to join up with the existing 480 SpaceX Starlink satellites.

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The new machines will be equipped with a new deployable sun visor system which is created to block reflections of sunlight off of their antenna surfaces.

The launch today will begin at 8.39pm.

It is part of Mr Musk’s wider plan for space domination in the coming years as he aims to adapt his Starship vehicle in order to be able to fly humans across the globe around 30 minutes.

The bold ambition was confirmed by the firm’s president Gwynne Shotwell, who told a TedTalk in 2018 that SpaceX would mix its commercial plans alongside its extraterrestrial projects.

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