American billionaire, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has faced a major setback as a booster rocket for its Starship spacecraft burst into flames during a ground-test firing.
The incident occurred on Monday in Texas where the space company’s Super Heavy Booster 7 prototype exploded as seen in a livestream recorded by the website, Nasa Spaceflight, metro.co.uk reports.
“Yeah, actually not good. Team is assessing damage,” Mr Musk said on Twitter after the explosion.
It was gathered that the explosion engulfed the base of the rocket in a ball of flames and heavy smoke which appeared to shake the video camera. However, there was no immediate indication of injuries.
“Going forward, we won’t do a spin start test with all 33 engines at once,” Mr Musk said on Twitter, explaining that the issue was specific to the engine spin start test.
After the explosion, the booster remained standing upright, bolted to a test gantry. The failure came in the midst of a daylong static fire test campaign of the booster, in Boca Chica, Texas.
The booster was equipped with an array of 33 Raptor engines for use in an upcoming uncrewed orbital test flight SpaceX hoped to launch later this year.
The explosion is likely to setback Musk’s aim of launching Starship to orbit this year.
The Starship is central to Nasa’s plans to return to the moon as well as Musk’s mission to make humans an ‘interplanetary species’ starting with Mars.
In June, SpaceX’s proposed Super Heavy rocket program in Boca Chica received approval pending dozens of conditions. It’s unclear if the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will look into the explosion.