The SpaceX SN10 Starship explooded minutes after a successful landing.
Starship SN10 landed in one piece! https://t.co/lO4AF47MaN
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 4, 2021
UH NEVER MIND pic.twitter.com/bWejhF60ln
— Doge (@IntelDoge) March 3, 2021
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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52 thoughts on “SpaceX SN10 Starship Explodes Minutes After Successful Landing”
Yes, thank god for Musk. A long time ago I began assuming it just isn't possible for one man to come along and radically change things in this age of beureacracies and massive institutions. I love living in a world where I was so wrong.
Likely. The big unknown is how many people would =really= want to, and would actually have the wherewithal to be able to, cash in what they had here on Earth and go try to live in orbit or on Mars.
One thing that SpaceX has done (or is expected to do shortly) to make the Heinlein-era space stories more plausible is simply providing cheaper access to space.
The other thing that SpaceX/Tesla/Musk have contributed is the bold new engineering approach that makes it seem possible that something like Voyager Station could be built at all, with acceptable risk margins, and maybe not take 10 or twenty years.
Dubious to the point of being impossible by 2027. Maybe by 2037, more likely 2047. But Mars, maybe. And even to Mars we're expecting only the very first few cargo ships by 2027. Voyager Station is one of those things that bases its existence on lots of talk and pretty pictures, enough to convince investors that it actually will exist.
Spoke too soon:
The fact that the landing legs did not lock in place was a bit disappointing. That's a fault that should not have happened. I think a combination of an hard landing and the bad legs caused plumbing problems that caused leaks that lead to the explosion. Need better legs which are coming.
Two things can kill a previously successful settlement:
1) Lack of self-sufficiency, after you lose the trade that had enabled you to get by without it.
2) Easy access to someplace else more attractive, so that more people leave than are born on a consistent basis.
Generally more the second than the first, because most places that die off could have been self-sufficient at a relatively low living standard.
You need to be a billionaire, or more, before you can afford to build a space launch system.
Stuck in traffic, more people watching than expected. Hey, 8 minutes late is almost on time.
Indeed. On the other hand, my great-great grandfather got off the boat from Sweden, made his way to Sioux Falls, and then drove a wagon 30 miles out into the prairie, during which trip his wife died, to raise three children in a sod hut that he had to build on the spot (I'm sure he had help from neighbors). His son grew up and built a church and general store in a small town nearby. The South Dakota prairie had a lot more resources than cold empty outer space. However if there were enough Amazon deliveries…
However, I get your meaning. As rocket man said “there’s no one there to raise them”. So an interesting question is how would space habitats get bootstrapped?
We need to remember all the vibrant, viable towns on Earth, that had a lot of people, a lot of service and maintenance workers, and yet turned into ghost towns overnight when the initial source of income dried up. They couldn't just keep each other going without it.
Autonomous, probably not, but remote controlled. I think water cannons are called fire fighting monitors?
The term of art apparently is "Swoop of Death" in the DC-X era
Scott Manley posted video—believes structure compromised at the time a bounce was caught on camera. Probable landing gear collapse—ship engine shroud appears in contact with landing pad.
Appears the leak may have occurred from fuel transfer piping utilized at the launch station.
Many of the landing gear did not lock after release from stowage.
Delta Clipper "Swan Dive":
5mm steel not viable for friction stir, iirc.
Perhaps space habitats. When the continental railroad was opened in the US, the track went by a lot of empty land. At least that could have been considered farmland. And it got filled up, near and branching from the rails. So, if you can put enough stuff up in orbit, it creates a kind of "ecology". Who wants to live up there? Obviously people with personal or corporate money, at first. Do some spin for artificial gravity, then go play zero-g games in the hub. Questions of risks: radiation, systems failure, etc. Being able to put up a lot of mass (or bring it down from the moon) helps with that.
There's some kind of threshold formula of desire, benefit (including just satisfaction of desire), cost and risk. If it was super cheap and the risks were very low, I'd like to go up there. There are lots of sci-fi scenarios: zero-g manufacturing, orbital geriatric communities, etc. Get enough people up there and you then have a second layer of wholesalers and retailers putt-putting around making deliveries. Ah, that's what Bezos has in mind. Amazon in space!
But it all gets back to that threshold formula. All that great Heinlein-era space sci-fi was predicated on cheap, easy access to space. That's why it still hasn't happened; it turned out to be much more difficult and expensive to just get up there.
I think this was an AWESOME test. Also, first time we got to see it lift off TWICE! But in Also think the may need to fix the landing feet.
The next space billionaire, I expect, will be the guy who leapfrogs to a new way of getting into space before anybody realizes it's become economically feasible.
Seems to be a patchwork of FAA/ NASA/ Congress-appointed committee regulations/ panels/ papers to assess risk and acceptability for unmanned/ manned launches. Also, Munich Re and Swiss Re collect a lot of premiums to cover launches – $10Ms per launch, as reported by MaintstreamM.
I'd guess it better balances the weight during the belly flop maneuver.
Yep. Those alternate methods, cool as they are, will be seriously considered only until we need that amount of mass in orbit.
We are not yet there, by far.
SpaceX wants to kickstart the market of things needing to go and return from space. Starlink was a way to raise demand and pay for it, but other needs have to be created.
I've noticed on previous flights that their engines apparently have leaky plumbing.
If you want real safety, you either need bigger margins, or better control over what the margins are protecting you from. That's the problem with chemical rocketry on Earth, the energetics don't allow for significantly better margins, so you need phenomenally good quality control and avoiding launching out of acceptable conditions.
I'd say access to space will be come safe when we're doing it by some means that's not so marginal in terms of energy. Rotovators, launch loops, mass drivers, lots of possibilities there, they just all require much more traffic to become economical.
SpaceX plans to create the first reusable space launcher that could reach 1000s of launches with the same rocket engine and overall design.
If they achieve that goal is pending to be seen, but they surely want to do it.
10 Starships/SH, launching once a month just for orbital delivery of cargo, could achieve 1000 launches in less than a decade (and 100,000 tons of cargo to space within a decade is already crazy by our current standards).
If they produce more SS's or/and can raise the reuse rate to weekly or daily, they would do that much faster.
The problem will really be finding so many things to launch. Even Starlink doesn't need that many launches. Hence P2P plans for cargo and people.
They need to raise the amount of things that can be, and are actually launched.
Amazing to see something that large be controlled in flt. Looks like a successful flt and landing with SN11 coming out next. Have to admit Musk keeps growing his already huge legend with the ability to innovate across so many product lines. Now he is going to build another rocket plant in the Austin area. I don't see any friction welding going on at Boca so this is something they probably do in Austin. How they will transport their rocket parts down to Boca will be interesting.
Space will never be risk-free. Gee, going to the bathroom isn't risk free either. Everything in life has a risk.
The environment is inimical to life and you depend on machines and the artificial environment all the time.
The trip also will never be a ride in the park, despite what Musk wishes.
And this regardless if his rockets become very used and get airplane-like ratios of safety and reuse (which is pending to prove).
It's just the inherent danger of the potential and actual kinetic/chemical energies involved on the trip, and the dangers of the environment you're going. That's just the price of going outside our little comfy rock.
Nevertheless, we could build artificial environments and vessels of enough careful design and dynamic stability to be resistant to these risks, reducing them to the point you can consider them 'safe'.
Brilliant moves, I suspect the leak was there before landing. Look at Doge video above at 10 sec into counter, a flame that goes on and off before landing. I suspect a leak occurred before touching down already, perhaps compromising and destabilizing the entire structure
Yes, if you'd been right at the door, and in a position to rappel down the side, hopefully NOT into the fire, you *might* have reached a safe distance before the explosion. Maybe.
Take any time at all to think about it, and no hope.
That wasn't really a survivable landing, except maybe in a theoretical sense.
A little bit of a bounce on landing, followed by a slight lean. I’m sure it took on a little leak after that.
A mystery as to why?
Sure, the explosion was minutes after the landing, and almost all fuel had been used. Lots of time, if properly motivated.
Turns out, the tanks were reversed since the first design iteration. O2 is now aft.
Can't see it easily now, but it memory/looked like there may have been one on each corner, but not yet hooked up or something? It was comical to see the squirt not getting there.
Apollo was rated 1 in 20, 95%. Shuttle 1 in 50, 98%. These were accurate by the experience, given close calls. There will be no shortage of eager people, esp if there is a place to go and live, not have to return.
they don't have several water cannon surrounding the pad, so that being
too far for one would make you closer to another"
Or firefighting drone like here
Surprised they don't have several water cannon surrounding the pad, so that being too far for one would make you closer to another.
But that rocket was doomed from the moment it landed, I think. Not only was it visibly off vertical immediately, it was visibly tilting further as time passed.
*Maybe* if they had managed to extinguish the fire immediately, they could have sent a crew in eventually to drain the remaining fuel and salvage it, but doing so would still have been unreasonably risky outside of an emergency.
I don't believe it blew up on its own, looked like a range safety detonation. The body parted right where their charges were placed.
But, again, people volunteering to colonize Mars aren't volunteering for the easy, safe life. They're volunteering for the hard, dangerous, but significant life. You need to let people take risks, if they want.
1000 cargo flights to orbit and back potentially could happen before the decade is out. You're not going to have 1000 cargo flights to Mars any time soon.
Don't forget that with Starship we are talking about carrying capacity up to 100 people(that's how they want to do that when moving to Mars), all those pre Starship rockets only took few people at a time.
Wouldn't safety standards while launching 100 people instead of 2,3 people at once increase by at least order of magnitude?
Also with cheap price of launching, Starlink program, they may be able to do even several launches per day (even Musk said that), so in theory 1000 launches/tests wouldn't take a long time
Yes, that's the O2 tank.
I'm not sure you'd have had time to get out and run far enough, from the moment it landed.
I suspect the early manned flights using Starship will incorporate a Dragon Capsule behind a panel fastened with explosive bolts. It would be a cheap and easy way to provide the Starship with escape capacity for a limited number of crew.
"but to be seen as reliable, it needs to have at least 1k-10k successfull launches in a row."
By that standard there's no such thing as a "reliable" rocket. They're launching people on Falcon, and it's a bit over 100 launches. And that's actually a lot of flights. Soyuz is up to about 150, but that's not 150 successful in a row.
It's true the average person won't fly on a rocket that's only had 100 successful launches, but it's going to be a while before average people are going into space. Certainly, average people aren't going to colonize the Solar system.
You'd be surprised how many people are willing to take a 1 in 100, or even 1 in 20, chance of death, to do something they consider important.
Imagine going on a trip to the Moon or Mars in a Starship(like Musk naively believes) in just next few years.
No wayyyy this is gonna happen(with humans), you can experiment with robots yes, but not humans.
I wish them luck, but to be seen as reliable, it needs to have at least 1k-10k successfull launches in a row. Even if they will have 10-30 successes in a row and 1 kaboom, it still would be scary to think about flying on this thing
Yep, it's just a hose nozzle that can be remotely aimed. They have the same thing on the droneships. No humans are anywhere near the rocket whenever there is any fuel on board. Rockets are way too likely to go boom unexpectedly.
Aft tank is O2, I've always heard.
I suspect the valving that vents the fuel, and/or O2 tanks after landing, or over pressure conditions, were damaged at landing, so pressure built as the liquids boiled, and a tank failed. More vapor formed around the skirt as the starship sat after landing, It looked to me like the bottom tank failed on one side near the OD under the skirt. I believe the lower, or aft tank is the methane, which would agree with my observations.
Anyway, you could have walked away, or maybe ran away, so it was a good landing!
Better landing legs may be the answer to this one.
Sweet! I love explosions.
After Delta Clipper
Yes, auto, but could not reach the rocket as it landed off center.
The Blue Origin sniper nearly missed his window this time.
Shortly after landing I saw a stream of water dousing the rocket. I'm guessing this was an autonomous unit and that no firefighters were hurt?
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