The year of 2019 has actually not been extremely kind to SpaceX up until now. Back in April, the business lost among its brand-new Team Dragon pills when a surge took place throughout a fixed shooting test of their In-Flight Abort test car. Earlier today, the business exposed that they had actually identified the reason for the surge, stating that it was because of a nitrogen tetroxide leakage that took place simply prior to the last test.

And now, simply a couple of days later on, another mishap has actually taken place, this time including the Starhopper test car. As soon as once again, a fire took place quickly after the car carried out an engine test; luckily, it led to no injuries. Nevertheless, the Starhopper appears to have actually come through the fire entirely unharmed, though it may trigger a small hold-up with the car’s set up hop tests.

All of it started on the night of Tuesday, July 16 th, at the business’s South Texas Introduce Website in Boca Chica, Texas. While the teams were test shooting the model Raptor engine, an abrupt fire resulted. About 4 minutes later on, a 2nd little surge swallowed up the test design in flames for a couple of seconds. The team rapidly snuffed out the flames, however the event stimulated a bargain of issue.

Specifically, there were concerns that this mishap might hold off the inaugural flight of the Starship car and Super Heavy rocket (aka. the BFR). This super-heavy launch system is Musk’s proposed methods of sending out teams and payloads to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), to the Moon, and to Mars. The Raptor engine is important to that strategy because the style of the BFR requires 31 Raptors on the Super Heavy and 7 on the Starship

The Starhopper test car is geared up with one Raptor engine and is set to carry out a series of “hop” tests in the coming weeks and months. Just like SpaceX’s hop tests utilizing the “Insect” rocket, this will include the car sparking its engine, flying to significantly high elevations, hovering for a brief amount of time, and after that utilizing the engine once again to make a regulated descent to the ground.

These tests will determine the engine’s capability to send out the BFR system (not to discuss heavy payloads and teams) into area and after that land once again, therefore satisfying Musk’s vision for a completely multiple-use system. While no long-term damage appears to have actually been triggered, it appears not likely at this moment that the Starhopper will have the ability to perform its very first utethered hop test today as initially prepared.

Photo revealing the engine after the test, appearing unharmed. Credit: BocachicaMaria1

This follows regional reports stating that there are presently no more roadway closures around the business website. This probably methods that the website teams are taking this time to take a look at the engine and the test car to figure out the reason for the fireball. Up until now, the big fireball has actually been credited to the ignition of a big methane vent that followed right after Raptor’s shutdown.

Paradoxically enough, this event serves to highlight the efficiency of the Starship style. It has actually currently been developed that by opting for stainless-steel over carbon composites, the spacecraft will be especially durable to heat. If the Starhopper were constructed out of any other product, the fireball would have most likely resulted in engine failure and some severe damage.

All in all, the engine test is thought about to be a success since (in addition to their being no damage triggered) it likewise led to essential information. And if Musk’s current discuss the topic are any sign, SpaceX might be striving the Moon faster than we believe. As he mentioned in a July 12 th interview with Time:

Well, this is gon na sound quite insane, however I believe we might arrive on the moon in less than 2 years. Definitely with an uncrewed car I think we might arrive on the moon in 2 years. So then perhaps within a year or 2 of that we might be sending out team. I would state 4 years at the exterior.

There is no word at this time regarding when the untethered hop test will be occurring, however if there is certainly no damage to the engine, it’s not most likely that observers at the Boca Chica test center will be waiting long to see it. As constantly, things might not take place in accordance with Musk’s positive timelines, however they do take place.

All that stays now is to wait and see who gets to the Moon initially. Will it be SpaceX, or NASA’s Job Artemis?

More Reading: The Brink, Teslarati, Time