A roaring explosion ripped through SpaceX’s rocket testing facilities in Boca Chica, Texas, on Monday.
The company was conducting a test of the Super Heavy booster, which it plans to use to launch its massive Starship rocket into orbit. The technology is the cornerstone of Elon Musk’s ambition to establish a colony on Mars.
At approximately 4:20 p.m. CT, flames poured from the engines, and an explosion rang out in the air, swaying cameras that were shooting the test from a distance.
The incident was filmed in a livestream of the test by NASASpaceflight. The explosion was unexpected, according to NASASpaceflight experts who closely monitor SpaceX’s activities. In addition, SpaceX had not sent the usual notices in advance of an engine test-fire.
After the incident, the booster prototype, known as Super Heavy Booster 7, looked to be in one piece. However, black smoke erupted from the test pad area for more than an hour after the explosion.
Initially, it was unknown what caused the explosion or the smoke.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to request for comment. The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for information on whether the apparent explosion will be investigated.
However, Musk tweeted while responding to a Twitter user, “Yeah, that’s not good. The team is assessing the damage.”
According to sources, SpaceX planned to launch a Starship rocket into orbit aboard a Super Heavy booster as early as July. However, the company has yet to execute all of the changes requested by a recent Federal Aviation Administration review.
Monday’s test was one of many that the rocket booster needed to pass to fly safely.
This is not the first time a fiery explosion has occurred at SpaceX’s South Texas facilities, which are used for early rocket prototype testing. The first four Starship prototypes launched from the company’s Texas base detonated after soaring a few miles. The prototype flew, landed, and cooled down in one piece on the fifth attempt.