A fourth generation Starship rocket exploded during a static fire test at SpaceX's Texas base on Friday afternoon. The test initially appeared to be successful but a few minutes later the craft went up on a fiery blast. There were no injuries as no one was on board.
The Starship is distinctly different than SpaceX's Crew Dragon, which is scheduled to launch this weekend and take astronauts to the ISS.
The Starship accident has no direct bearing on the historic “Launch America” event, scheduled for this weekend, weather permitting. The Crew Dragon has been heavily tested and vetted for years, and robotic uncrewed versions of it have visited the station nearly 20 times.
The SN4, in contrast, is the latest prototype of SpaceX’s ambitious and highly experimental Starship concept. The final version of Starship, as envisioned by the company, is a massive reusable spacecraft that could ultimately transport 100 passengers to Earth orbit, or to more distant destinations such as the Moon and Mars. SpaceX is a long way from turning its Starship dreams into a reality, and the SN4 test vehicle was designed to test out only a few of the basic technologies needed for the mission.
Seems expensive. Then again, what in space travel isn't?