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Elon Musk’s Starship explodes in SpaceX test: ‘We’ll just buff it out’

A Starship SN1 prototype explodes at the SpaceX test site in Boca Chica, Texas, on Feb. 28, 2020.
A Starship SN1 prototype explodes at the SpaceX test site in Boca Chica, Texas, on Feb. 28, 2020. NASASpaceflight/YouTube

You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs — and you can’t make a Starship without blowing up a few rockets.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk tried to shrug off another setback for his company’s space program early Monday, after a Starship SN1 prototype exploded during a test in Boca Chica, Texas, late Friday.

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The partial Starship rocket blew up during a liquid nitrogen pressure test on the SpaceX launch pad, according to NASA Spaceflight, a website that focuses on spacecraft news.

Musk tweeted NASA Spaceflight’s footage of the explosion after midnight on Monday.

“So… How was your night?” he wrote.

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The footage shows the cylindrical Starship body springing upward and crumpling as though crushed by an invisible hand, before collapsing into a cloud of steam and apparent nitrogen gas.

The test happened on Friday night in Texas, where SpaceX has been testing the Starship without its nose cone.

“It’s fine, we’ll just buff it out,” Musk wrote in a tongue-in-cheek tweet. “Where’s Flextape when you need it?” he added.

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Friday marked the second major pressure test-related explosion for the Starship. An earlier model blew up on the launch pad back in November.

SpaceX’s fully-assembled Starship MK1 is shown in Cameron County, Texas.
SpaceX’s fully-assembled Starship MK1 is shown in Cameron County, Texas. SpaceX

The Starship is meant to be a two-stage rocket that will carry humans to the moon and Mars. The shiny, classic sci-fi-inspired top half stands 118 metres tall and is meant to ferry dozens of people into deep space in a single launch.

Japanese billionaire will be SpaceX’s first private passenger to moon
Japanese billionaire will be SpaceX’s first private passenger to moon

Musk has already enlisted his first billionaire space tourist for one of the craft’s early voyages.

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He hopes to stage the first orbital flight test later this year.

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With files from Reuters