Science

Elon Musk reveals why SpaceX’s SN10 Starship exploded

SpaceX’s SN series’ rockets are heavy-lift launch vehicles that’s being developed to carry cargo and human passengers to Earth’s orbit and beyond. Unlike the Falcon series, Starship is a two-stage reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle, consisting of ‘Starship’ and ‘Super Heavy Booster rocket’. It would be functioning for service missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond with different configurations. Falcon series’ rockets are orbital-class reusable rockets, used to deliver cargoes, satellites to earth’s lower orbits. 

When SpaceX’s SN10 Starship touched down on March 3rd, it was for sure that the prototype made its flight successful. Though the vehicle exploded around a minute after its landing on the launchpad, it was a great success for SpaceX’s team. 

Now, Elon Musk has revealed what went wrong in responses sent to followers on Twitter. SpaceX’s chief said the SN10 engine was low on thrust probably due to “partial helium ingestion from the fuel header tank” and that the impact of 10m/s^2  crushed the rocket’s legs and part of its skirt. SpaceX is now working on multiple fixes for the issue so that it doesn’t affect SN10’s successor, the SN11, anymore.

Chris Bergin of NASA Spaceflight tweeted that the issue is a “tricky one”, seeing as the helium ingestion was caused by the pressurization system added to the CH4 tank to prevent what caused SN8 Starship’s explosion. Musk said that’s a “far point”, and he approved the change because it sounded good at the time.

Starship series rockets can bring a revolution for reusable rockets in the space industry. SN series’ rockets are the most powerful reusable rockets in the world. Reusable rockets decrease the rate of accumulation of space junk and also aids the space industry financially. SN10’s explosion won’t be slowing down the company’s testing efforts – in fact, it recently rolled out the SN11 prototype to its Boca Chica facility to start preparing for its fourth high-altitude test launch. 

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ARTICLE: PATEL CHAITANYA

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

PHOTO CREDITS: THE INDEPENDENT

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