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posted by martyb on Wednesday July 17 2019, @07:17PM   Printer-friendly
from the anomalies dept.

SpaceX's Starhopper engulfed in fireball after critical Raptor static fire test

SpaceX's Starhopper was engulfed in a fireball shortly after a static fire ignition of its Raptor engine, almost certainly delaying the low-fidelity Starship prototype and testbed's first untethered flight.

With any luck, Raptor, Starhopper, and SpaceX's spartan Boca Chica facilities have escaped relatively unharmed. Regardless, even if Raptor's static fire was technically successful, some repairs will likely be necessary and the off-nominal behavior that occurred after the ignition test will have to be dealt with and understood to prevent such behavior during future Starhopper operations.

[...] Due to the inherently low quality of video captured through thousands of feet of thick, humid Texas air, it's almost impossible to make specific details out. However, shortly after the static fire ignition and shutdown, some viewers believe that there was fire visible at one or several points on Starhopper, although what looks like fire could easily be a simple reflection of the active flare stack just a few hundred feet away.

Hopefully hurt nobody is, damages minimal they are, and lots of telemetry collected it was.

Original Submission

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Despite the spectacular and reportedly successful hover and divert test, Starhopper's powerful Raptor engine appears to have started a significant fire, placing SpaceX's Starhopper pad in a precarious position per the fire's apparent adjacency to full liquid oxygen tanks. Ironically, despite Starhopper's seeming predilection as of late towards catching itself on fire, the large rocket testbed appears to be entirely unscorched as a brush fire burns around a few hundred feet distant.

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  • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Wednesday July 17 2019, @08:10PM

    by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 17 2019, @08:10PM (#868194) Journal

    On journalism:

    If someone says it's raining, and another person says it's dry, it's not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the fucking window and find out which is true.

    Sally Claire

    Could this not have waited for a half hour to hour so you could report what actually happened?

    This is less directed at DannyB and more at Eric Ralph.

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday July 17 2019, @08:20PM

    by takyon (881) <> on Wednesday July 17 2019, @08:20PM (#868197) Journal

    It looked like some methane leaked and ignited, after the static fire test, with a fire near the engine and fuel intake port, but hard to tell because the thing is shiny and reflective. Ignition happened after it was doused with water. As expected of a giant steel trash can, it didn't look damaged after the event.

    Also, they apparently refueled it AFTER all that happened: []

    SpaceX StarHopper engine test and unexpected fireball (4K Slow Mo) []

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 17 2019, @08:21PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 17 2019, @08:21PM (#868198)

    aweee thanks for direct video link.
    tho it was a bit underwhelming. i expected more a la: []
    xor []

  • (Score: 1) by RandomFactor on Wednesday July 17 2019, @11:25PM

    by RandomFactor (3682) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 17 2019, @11:25PM (#868281) Journal

    yes, that would be an off-nominal outcome.

    В «Правде» нет известий, в «Известиях» нет правды
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 17 2019, @11:56PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 17 2019, @11:56PM (#868289)

    I know next to nothing about this, but it looks like that flare stack might have ignited some un-burned propellant. The question for me is, why is that stack there? Is the possibility of an un-burned fuel leak so potentially bad that they want to make sure it ignites near the test stand rather than drifting?

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18 2019, @05:47AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18 2019, @05:47AM (#868390)

      They are using LNG as fuel. To keep it cold they have to bleed off the evaporating gas which needs to go somewhere. Flaring it is the most common solution.

      • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday July 18 2019, @08:54PM

        by ElizabethGreene (6748) Subscriber Badge on Thursday July 18 2019, @08:54PM (#868681) Journal

        … and the flare is a lot further away than it looks. If you were watching the everyday astronaut livestream the Camera perspective is fairly deceptive.

  • (Score: -1) by MyOpinion on Wednesday July 24 2019, @08:11PM

    by MyOpinion (6561) on Wednesday July 24 2019, @08:11PM (#870841) Homepage Journal

    .. how many people has "SpaceX" sent to "space" so far?

    Truth is like a Lion: you need not defend it; let it loose, and it defends itself.