Super Heavy “flared up” during tests

During the testing of the prototype of the first stage of the Super Heavy, a fire occurred. SpaceX’s specialists are currently assessing the damage caused. 

Fireball on the launch pad

On July 11, SpaceX conducted another series of tests of the Super Heavy prototype, a huge stage that will be used to launch the new Starship spacecraft. At some point, a large fireball flared out of the propulsion system of the unit. It led to a fire on the launch pad, which was eliminated after a while. 

Soon Elon Musk commented on the incident. According to him, it occurred during a test that did not involve turning on the engines. Also, the SpaceX owner noted that this particular problem is specific to this test of Raptor engines (they have a complex launch sequence). In the future, engineers will not conduct such a test with all 33 Super Heavy engines at once.

As for the technical condition of the Super Heavy, while the fireball by definition cannot be “good”, it is not yet clear exactly what kind of damage it caused. Musk noted that a preliminary inspection revealed no obvious damage to the stage and promised to provide details later.

The largest stage in history

Super Heavy is the largest rocket stage in history. Its length is 70 meters, diameter — 9 meters, weight (when refueled) — 3400 tons. It is equipped with 33 Raptor engines running on liquid methane and oxygen. SpaceX plans to reuse Super Heavy, using a giant tower with a mechanized arm called “Mechazilla” to capture it. 

33 Raptor engines of the Super Heavy rocket. Photo: SpaceX

Recall that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently completed an environmental assessment of the SpaceX spaceport in Boca Chica. It removed important obstacles on the way to the first flight of Starship and Super Heavy. However, in order to test SpaceX, it is also necessary to obtain a launch license, which is also issued by the FAA.

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