Elon Musk says SpaceX Starship booster ‘probably’ returning to pad after explosion

After a test explosion on Monday (July 13), the Starship rocket booster SpaceX intends to deploy for a first voyage into space will “probably” return to its launch mount in Texas the following week, the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, told Reuters. Damage is minimal, but the rocket will be moved back to the high bay for checks before likely returning to the launch platform the following week, according to Musk in an email.

When the booster’s engine section caught fire on Monday, it sent a shockwave miles over the South Texas site. The booster is the towering first half of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket system. Several times in the past, SpaceX has launched early versions of the top half of the Starship into space to a height of 9.66 kilometers.

However, the corporation has never successfully launched the fully stacked, 121.92-meter-tall rocket system into orbit, which is a far more difficult undertaking. The corporation had set a goal of completing the first orbital flight by the end of the summer in order to reach a crucial turning point in the construction of the rocket, but Monday’s explosion placed that plan into doubt.

After the explosion, the Federal Aviation Administration, which is in charge of regulating launch and rocket re-entry safety, said it was in “close communication” with SpaceX but declined to begin a formal inquiry since the mishap did not take place during a scheduled launch campaign.

The rocket booster will be wheeled back to SpaceX’s hangar so that its 33 Raptors rocket engines can be examined in more detail, according to Musk, the company’s founder and chief engineer. According to Musk’s tweet from Wednesday, if testing goes well, the orbital Starship test might take place “as soon as next month.”

To transport people and goods to the moon and Mars, Musk’s starship is the focal point of his plan. Last year, NASA selected the rocket to launch the first team of humans to the moon’s surface since the US Apollo mission. Starship was created in SpaceX’s expansive Boca Chica, Texas, facilities, and the corporation intends to use its Cape Canaveral, Florida, launch facilities in the future to launch the rocket.

Source: Reuters

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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