SpaceX encounters issues while testing Starship SN8

Evelyn Arevalo by Evelyn Arevalo November 13, 2020

SpaceX encounters issues while testing Starship SN8

Featured Image Source: @LabPadre via Twitter/YouTube

SpaceX continues to prepare the Starship SN8 prototype at the South Texas Launch Facility in Boca Chica Beach. For the past couple of weeks, the stainless-steel vehicle has been undergoing pre-flight testing ahead of a debut launch. Starship SN8 is expected to be the first fully-assembled prototype to perform a higher altitude test flight of approximately 50,000 feet (15-kilometers). The vehicle features a trio of methane fueled Raptor engines and aerodynamic fins that will be tested during flight for the first time. Engineers have been testing the three engines to ensure they are ready to fly. SN8's Raptors where ignited for the third time on Thursday night (November 12) during a static-fire test in which the engines were quickly ignited for a few seconds as the vehicle remained grounded to the Boca Chica launchpad. SpaceX encountered issues while testing Starship SN8. South Texas residents captured footage of the test, shown in the video below.

The founder of SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk shared after the test what went wrong via Twitter. --"We lost vehicle pneumatics. Reason unknown at present. Liquid oxygen header tank pressure is rising. Hopefully triggers burst disk to relieve pressure, otherwise it’s going to pop the cork," Musk said on Thursday night. "Maybe melted an engine preburner or fuel hot gas manifold. Whatever it is caused pneumatics loss. We need to design out this problem," he said in a follow-up comment.

Later, Musk shared the burst disk worked as intended and Starship SN8 did not burst. --"Burst disk worked, so vehicle appears to be ok. We’ll have to swap out at least one of the engines," he said. Now, engineers will work on installing a new engine(s) to then perform another static-fire test to ensure everything is working well before attempting to launch the vehicle. Meanwhile, multiple Starship prototypes are under assembly. If Starship SN8 fails during the pre-flight test phase, the next vehicle in line - Starship SN9 - will be ready to perform a test flight at Boca Chica. Every prototype will undergo similar testing, which offers engineers insight towards developing the Starship launch vehicle that will one day take astronauts to Mars.  You can watch SpaceX Live operations 24/7 in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.



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