SpaceX Starship SN1 Explodes During Pressure Test

SpaceX Starship SN01’s liquid oxygen tank violently burst. The 30-40 ton went several dozen feet into the air. The methane tank was flung 500-1000 feet away.

Bocochicagal captured the explosion on video.

SN01 was built in about four weeks.

SN02 should be ready for proof testing in less than three weeks.

SOURCES – SpaceX, Boca Chica Gal, Marcus House
Written By Brian Wang,

24 thoughts on “SpaceX Starship SN1 Explodes During Pressure Test”

  1. On a more general note, we often discuss the fact that Mars (as a planet) has the material on hand, whereas Space does not, at least without extensive effort. This has led me to consider an example for comparison: 20th century American iron/steel. We get/got ore from Iron Mountain, put it in ore boats, move it to Gary, and are ready for processing. At this point, we are similar in process to having captured a NEO/TCO or built a mass driver on the Moon, sending moist *dirt*/*ore* to cislunar Space. I’m not trying to say the mass driver is cheaper than ore boats! I’m saying that from the point of getting the materials on, Space wins hands down. No g to deal with for the rest of the process. Free energy for the collecting. Free vacuum and cold if needed. Easier high g with high spin. O’Neill thinking.

  2. I’m not the expert on this, but long ago there was a claim that vapor deposited Al would have very small crystals, which is usu associated with *good* in metals. This may still be inferior to the *rolling* that is used to form steel, however.
    Welding idea looks interesting. Would *seam* to have to go all the around the rings being joined at once, a big arc.
    More generally, Space offers the opp to mix new alloys, without the sep that g causes during cooling. Or, by vaping, have them mixed as they land. Can’t do a lot of vap work on Earth because of atmos, as well as g, making large vacuum volumes really hard.
    “Once the welded ones bring the cost to reach space in the first place down far enough” is the key idea! Musk is not thinking along these lines, as he is stuck on Mars. But being able to fab rockets in Space, esp using lunar/asteroidal ISRU, would help make OTHER stuff possible too, not just hundreds or thousands of rockets. Musk should consider cooperation with these other O’Neill ideas, not try to discourage them. He should recognize the basic point, that things are usu easier in Space than on planets, and do it!

  3. Maybe they will be… Once the welded ones bring the cost to reach space in the first place down far enough. But I have my doubts, vapor deposited materials are not particularly known for their strength and ductility.

    OTOH, there was at one time a welding technique involving a vapor deposited film of alternating metals, which you’d place between the two pieces of metal and then strike an arc on; The film would then convert to an intermetalic compound, raising very thing layer of metal to molten temperature, which would mix and then immediately quench, with no heat effected zone.

    This could be useful for welding 300 series stainless without creating a heat effected zone, if the process had been developed to an application level, but it was only, IIRC, experimental.

  4. Since many airlines and space programs have bellied up or been crippled due to one tragic incident, these tests may be best served in the Siberian tundra while they perfect the science.

  5. Pretty sure that there can be an easier and better way to understand and locate design problems further down the line.

  6. I guess this is less gymnastics and more the shot put… but since I didn’t have a distance, I judged on looks, and it looks spectacular.

  7. ^^ There’s too many people who take what comes out of a computer as infallible holy writ. (I’m thinking of some of the design problems with CAD with the 777, I think, where everyone did their own sections (like hydraulics, pneumatics, landing gear, wiring runs) and they found that the CAD program had a lot of systems impinging on each other, requiring a LOT of work to fix.)

    You can make something look perfect on CAD or paper – but you won’t know until you build whether it’ll work as designed.

  8. Pressurized tanks, no – it’s known.

    Making a thin, lightweight, easily manufactured and inexpensive cryogenic-capable tank the size they’re wanting in ways that haven’t been done before – that’s something else. You can CAD up designs all the ding-dong day – but in the end, you HAVE to test what you’ve built and see what your theories have right, or wrong.

    And better they blow now than while in flight.

  9. “Can’t use it so… let’s go all Mythbusters on it. How much pressure CAN the faulty welds stand?”

  10. Last time this happened they scrapped all their other half-built prototypes and started afresh with several months delay. This catastrophic failure surely deserves a bit of a rethink on how things should go forward. Pressurizing tanks is not rocket science. Rocket engines and vibrations and aerodynamics is what puts the rocket in rocket science. Pressure tanks is just hydrostatics that Archimedes solved over two thousand years ago. I am all for rapid iteration but so far they have failed to reach a productive balance between speed and quality.
    Any word on what caused it? It looks like another weld gave way and it looks like one of the welds done in the open air to join the major segments together. At the very least they should totally band all open air welding and wait till the high bay assembly building is finished.

  11. Cut metal, build a prototype, test to destruction. Iterate a better next version using lessons learned, without wringing of hands, suffering interminable meetings, overthink. That’s the way Kelly Johnson made rapid progress with his ‘X-projects’ mind-set.

    Predates computer over analysis—predictions which are totally reliant on creating a valid initial model as a starting point—GIGO.

  12. BEFORE it exploded, Musk had already said they had discovered problems in their welding process, so they wouldn´t use this for flight.

    Thus, maybe did one more overpressurization test.

  13. I was surprised since they did do some testing with tanks. Maybe all of the extra pumping make SN1 more fragile. Well, back to the drawing board.

  14. 3 2 1…. blast off!!!!!

    wow, it went a whole 3 feet into the air… Proving once again that water towers are best use for drinking water

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