back to article Starship bloopers: Watch Elon Musk's Mars ferry prototype explode on the pad during liquid nitrogen test

Video footage has emerged of SpaceX's Starship prototype dramatically blowing up on the pad. The Starship SN1 prototype was undergoing pressure testing at the Musketeers' factory at Boca Chica in Texas, USA, by filling its tanks with liquid nitrogen. The base of the rocket appears to have ruptured, sending the structure …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was it on Autopilot ?

  2. HmYiss

    Unsurprise.

    Thing has always looked like a cheap chinese buttplug mould (well used). Anyone watching the stream of the 'work' going on last few weeks will have noticed nothing but a bunch of dudes just milling about randomly while 'stuff' was supposedly happening.. Whole thing is about as convincing as a kid's TV show.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Unsurprise.

      I was going to reply sarcastically, but after checking your post history, I think you just need a hug.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unsurprise.

        Best post .. ever.

        Still laughing :).

      2. HmYiss

        Re: Unsurprise.

        lmao look at all the triggered little musklings.

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Unsurprise.

          *says something stupid*

          "OMG ur triggered"

          Grow up.

      3. xyz

        Re: Unsurprise.

        I honest to God didn't know everyone can see all your posts.... Until now! In me defence I've only been registered on this site for about 20 years!

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Unsurprise.

          I've only been registered on this site for about 20 years!

          12 years, 2 months and 25 days, to be exact.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Unsurprise.

            "12 years, 2 months and 25 days, to be exact."

            Some of us have had to recreate accounts, but have been lurking since the 90s.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Unsurprise.

          I use it to view mine, see how many DOWN votes I'm gettnig. Heh.

      4. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Unsurprise.

        "after checking your post history, I think you just need a hug clue-bat"

        heh

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Unsurprise.

      I will bow to your superior experience of buttplugs.

      Judging by price and progress, Boeing is far better at getting a bunch of dudes to just mill about randomly while 'stuff' is supposedly happening. I missed their SLS launch scheduled for September 2018. Perhaps it was not convincing enough to appear even on kid's TV show.

      1. S4qFBxkFFg

        Re: Unsurprise.

        "I will bow to your superior experience of buttplugs."

        Ahem.

        Phrasing?

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Go

          Re: Unsurprise.

          My co-workers are concerned for me because of the laughter coming from me reading this thread.

    3. Steve Todd
      WTF?

      Re: Unsurprise.

      You do realise that SpaceX is a privately held company, and thus has no need to impress potential stockholders?

      Unless you are (a) an engineer, (b) have been watching the feed for the full working day, each day, and (c) have access to feeds from inside the rocket then how do you know what progress is being made and who is doing what?

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Unsurprise.

      "bunch of dudes just milling about randomly while 'stuff' was supposedly happening"

      uh, you don't do much engineering, do yah?

      if you ever HAVE,. you would know that it very often consists of a bunch of egghead types standing around discussing beer or baseball [in lieu of work, while thinking about the problem to solve], and occasionally coming up with a stoke of brilliance.

      Last such meeting I got inspired, sketched something, handed it to the manager, who then [along with a couple of others] implemented it. And I was just sitting nearby at the time (working on something else).

      So yeah cardboard+tape prototypes, hacked together cables, re-purposed "things", all typical. And the "milling about randomly" is a regular part of that, too.

  3. Dr. G. Freeman

    Good they're getting the bugs out of the system now, rather than when they've got fleshy things in it.

    I'd be worried if things like this weren't happening- on or off camera.

  4. imanidiot Silver badge

    Wasn't planned

    Musk sort of confirmed it wasn't a planned destruction (and it did far more damage than would be expected if it was due to the way it failed).

    1. Brangdon Bronze badge

      Re: Wasn't planned

      It wasn't planned, but it can't have been too unexpected either. They were using a new welding scheme and had already noticed they'd set it up wrong. Fault corrected for SN 2. This SN 1 was going to be pressure-tested but they were never going to attach Raptor engines to it.

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        Re: Wasn't planned

        Even without engines, they DID achieve liftoff with the first model; that should count for something, right?

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Wasn't planned

          Even without engines, they DID achieve liftoff with the first model; that should count for something, right?

          Maybe the liftoff was good but they botched the landing. Maybe a score of 5 out of possible 10 points.

          1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

            Re: Wasn't planned

            "Maybe the liftoff was good but they botched the landing. Maybe a score of 5 out of possible 10 points."

            "'Vunce ze rockets are up, who cares where zey come down? Zat's not my department,' says Werner von Braun!"

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Wasn't planned

            "they botched the landing."

            I don't know, that sound of several million buckling washboards was probably worth the effort put into making it "hop"

    2. HammerOn1024

      Re: Wasn't planned

      That's ok... it's why we test. Me, as a test guy, am not surprised. SpaceX's mantra of build, test, rebuild, test is great! Yes, maybe a bit more costly for development, but the results speak for themselves. Where's Boeing's competitive booster? NGC's? Lockheed's?

      Yeah, testing can lead to spectacular finishes, but this is no failure; lessons were learned.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Re: Wasn't planned

        "The best test is one that fails - you don't learn anything from a successful test, except maybe that your tests are not good enough"

        I don't know who said it first, but it's as applicable here as it is in SW.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: Wasn't planned

          Failure is evidence that education is occurring.

          There's also Maxim 70, and other decent references for why failure is a Good Thing.

    3. Gnoitall
      Facepalm

      Re: Wasn't planned

      He missed the trick, then.

      "That. Uh. That was totally supposed to happen. Totally. Planned test to destruction. Success!"

      There's very good precedent. NASA did it with SLS.

      https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/nasa-engineers-break-sls-test-tank-on-purpose-to-test-extreme-limits.html

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Wasn't planned

        yeah this stress test MIGHT have been "unscheduled" though.

        But a TRUE engineer would use its data anyway. "The stress test on the prototype caused it to fail at a level that was below expectations" aka "good test, found design flaw".

  5. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Many more iterations

    Many, many more. An infinite series, in fact.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's complex work

    There's a new Youtube documentary about how rockets are built, and I must admit I was so engrossed I watched all of it (also because my browser somehow filters out the ads).

    Yeah, the risk of an earth shattering kaboom is ever present. Less so now, but it never quite goes away.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: It's complex work

      At least we live in an age where it's relatively easy to have 24/7 video of rocket construction and testing, so we get footage of all the kabooms that happen.

      Imagine how many BANG!s from the early space age weren't filmed.

      1. John McCallum

        Re: It's complex work

        I think that all of them were filmed it is another matter on how many were or will ever be released to the gawping public

        1. The First Dave Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: It's complex work

          There is also a question mark over the survival of the filming equipment/personnel in some of the earlier cases - video camera's are a lot more robust than they used to be in the early days.

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: It's complex work

            Not to mention that with film cameras you can always ditch the film with the images still latent and undeveloped.

            For PFY’s in the ancient times cameras were filled with rolls of film doped with silver iodide and other things if it was colour. The exposed film then had to be ‘developed’ using chemicals in a ‘darkroom’. Then it would be ‘fixed’ to stop the process before being ‘washed’ in clean water and then dried.

            I have done this for black and white film. Mostly film which had been in electron microscope cameras under vacuum while I took montages of the whole cross section of a certain mouse muscle. After developing the film was printed on 8X10 paper which could be used under a red light in the ‘darkroom’ so you could see what you were doing. We were lucky we had a print processor. You put the exposed paper in one end and it spat out a dry print at the other end.

            These then had to be trimmed of the white border before I assembled the montage which could be 7’ across. Clear tape across the front reinforced with masking tape on the back. Often I had to take those down into the scope room and resolve ambiguous profiles. One montage was one data point. 6 were usually required for each point or bar or a graph.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: It's complex work

        The ever obligatory link: Ignition, An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants. By John D. Clark

        The answer is probably quite a lot. But most of them on test stands and research equipment. Tests with the full rocket (or large equipment) was usually filmed right from the get go. Even the teams at Peenemunde seem to have made a lot of video of their (failed) launches.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: It's complex work

          The book is back in print, which is nice if a dead tree version is desired.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: It's complex work

        "Imagine how many BANG!s from the early space age weren't filmed."

        One that was similar (although not a bang) was the structural failure of an Atlas rocket on the pad (same balloon tank principle as here)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imkdz63agHY

  7. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    Elon “Pedo Guy” Musk, remember.

  8. Symon Silver badge
    Pint

    They forgot the ping pong balls.

    https://youtu.be/nolYmenCcDc

    We did this down the pub once (also without ping pong balls) with a 2 litre coke bottle and the AI lady's LN2. Those bottles are hella strong. The secret is to use silicone sealant on the cap and invert the bottle which freezes the gloop rock hard and stops it all blowing off prematurely. People could hear the bang for miles...

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: They forgot the ping pong balls.

      dry ice chunks work, too - slip 'em in quickly, cap the bottle, place inside dumpster, run...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: They forgot the ping pong balls.

        "place inside dumpster"

        In my day it was letterboxes. US mail or australasian varieties

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: They forgot the ping pong balls.

          combining muriatic acid and aluminium foil into a 2 liter bottle, capping it tightly and running away after putting it down makes for a nice loud boom, and a cloud of vapor you probably shouldn't breathe.

          I had an.... interesting teacher in sunday school. The boom occurred right in the middle of the sermon as well, which added to the hilarity factor.

  9. StuntMisanthrope

    Openvacuum.xyz

    It really is, much like asking for directions. Can we have the plans and license support. That’s the a point. #auditoff #boilerorgrandslam

    1. StuntMisanthrope

      Re: Openvacuum.xyz

      #smithflyer

  10. ddogsdad

    You gotta break eggs to push Science forward.

    SpaceX is looking for the exact safety design limits for their cryogenic tanks. The title of this article is Moronic. No one has ever design a rocket fuel tank system like this before; There are no Engineering Standards to go by. If they blow up a few they will never know for sure exactly how hard they can push them. This isn't a joke, this is real world science and engineering at it's best. Elon knew this one was most likely going to fail and they had already changed the welding procedures on SN2.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: You gotta break eggs to push Science forward.

      ... and when the operating specs are written down for later maintenance staff, the 'max allowed' pressure should be reduced a wee bit, in order to allow for some headroom.

      "An engineer is always a wee bit conservative, at least on paper." - M. Scott

  11. ddogsdad

    Moronic Title to article. Should read.... You have to break some eggs to advance science.

    SpaceX is looking for the exact safety design limits for their cryogenic tanks. No one has ever design a rocket fuel tank system like this before; There are no Engineering Standards to go by. If they blow up a few they will never know for sure exactly how hard they can push them. This isn't a joke, this is real world science and engineering at it's best. Elon knew this one was most likely going to fail and they had already changed the welding procedures on SN2.

  12. AdiDaddi80

    Fail Fast development strategy?

    Could it be that Elon is trying to re-create their "fail-fast" strategy applied to development of Falcon rocket? It appears much faster (and cheaper?) way of collecting massive amounts of DATA which helps to leapfrog the competition (is there any??).

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