May 20, 2020

SpaceX Starship rocket catches fire during third Raptor engine test

Posted by in category: space travel

SpaceX appears to have successfully fired up its fourth full-scale Starship prototype for the third time, although the Raptor engine test ended with the aft end of the ship catching fire and burning for quite some time.

Around May 7th, hours after Starship SN4 completed its second wet dress rehearsal and Raptor static fire in ~24 hours, SpaceX removed the SN18 Raptor engine it had used to support those tests, transporting it back to storage facilities a mile down the road. Three days later, SpaceX sent Raptor SN20 down the same same road and installed it on Starship SN4 – a swap made for unknown reasons.

Regardless, that swap meant that SpaceX would need to perform at least one more static fire test to prove that Starship and its new Raptor engine were getting along before the company could proceed to hop test preparations. After several days of at least 4 aborted Starship static fire attempts, SpaceX has finally managed to fuel Starship SN4 and ignite Raptor engine SN20 – but not before a new challenge cropped up.

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