On Wednesday, SpaceX put nitrogen into a prototype version of the Starship. The exercise took place at the company’s facility somewhere near Boca Chica Beach, in South Texas. It was the first significant test of the fuel tanks of the vehicle.
But halfway through the process, something happened, and the top bulkhead of the vehicle simply broke apart. Then, this was followed by a white cloud of smoke from the interior of the vehicle. It cleared out at some point, and they were able to see the shiny Starship. This was the vehicle that was revealed back in September.
SpaceX then started to look into the accident carefully, and they found out that this was a “max” pressurization test. Of course, no one was hurt, and it was not really that big of a deal, according to the company. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, stated on Twitter that the prototype had value, but that the design of the vehicle would be very different.
But was it really just a setback and not a big deal?
SpaceX can afford an accident like this because of the iterative design. The company builds vehicles, then tests them, and it flies them as soon as possible. If they fail, the company fixes them. They are currently building prototypes of Starship in order to learn from them and improve the design for the final one. This approach is proved to be amazing and quite helpful for the team of SpaceX. They use the name of “Mark” for the prototypes. The one that failed on Wednesday was Mark 1. Mark 2 is being built in Florida right now, and Mark 3, in Texas.