SpaceX Raptor 2 engine tests ended with explosion

A powerful explosion occurred at SpaceX’s McGregor facility in Texas during a test of the Raptor 2 engine. The company has not yet provided official comments, but it is unlikely that this will affect the upcoming fourth test launch of the Starship megarocket.

The incident occurred on May 23 at around 4:15 p.m. local time. The video shows how the Raptor engine stopped about 14 seconds after starting. After the shutdown, which looked like a normal completion of the test, steam continued to be released from under the engine. Then a fire appeared at the bottom of the test stand, which quickly grew and caused a large explosion, engulfing the entire tower.

It is not yet known whether the engine itself or the test stand was damaged. The explosion was probably caused by methane and oxygen, the main components used in Raptor engines. They use liquid methane as a fuel, and liquid oxygen acts as an oxidizer. If there was a leak or combustion anomaly, these gases could mix and flare up, which led to the explosion. It is also possible that something else might have exploded on the test stand due to the formation of a fireball. Details will be known after the official SpaceX investigation.

Such anomalies are not uncommon during qualification tests. SpaceX conducts such tests to ensure that the engines meet performance and safety requirements before use in flight. Currently, the company tests Raptor 2 engines, which have improved performance, greater efficiency and reliability compared to previous models.

It is unlikely that this incident will delay the future fourth launch of the experimental Starship megarocket, which uses Raptor engines. SpaceX held a dress rehearsal of the launch system on May 20. The company’s CEO, Elon Musk, announced on Twitter that the flight of Starship Flight 4 was expected in about two weeks, i.e. in early June.

Earlier, we showed dramatic footage of the double explosion of Starship.

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