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Watch Tiles Fly Off SpaceX’s Starship S20 During Testing

The newest model of a starship is being called S20 and its prototype was just sent for trial. However, the trial turned out to be a little chaotic. On Monday, a venting test for the vehicle was scheduled. The pressure applied led to the violent popping off of the hexagonal heat shield tiles.

“Headed tank vent knocked off a few tiles,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed in a Monday evening tweet, responding to another Twitter user posting a GIF of the heat shield tiles breaking off.

According to Teslarati, around a dozen tiles were thrown off. It turned out to be an occupational safety threat for the workers as well. The size of one tile was equal to that of a dinner plate.

These tiles are made up of ceramics and they protect the spacecraft from the burning temperature when it enters again into the earth’s atmosphere. Starship is designed to exhibit a “belly-flop” tactic to help slow its descent. This means fewer tiles will be used on the sides.

The air hitting NASA’s Space Shuttle when coming back to the earth is well above 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These tiles of the shuttle are not made of ceramics. Silica fibers are used as a highly effective insulator.

These hexagonal tiles are cuffed with the Starship’s stainless-steel exterior with steel studs, according to Musk. It is still not known what causes the tiles to fall off.

There are more tests for S20 before it can be used. It will experience cryogenic proof and static fire tests, Teslarati reports. The tests may be scheduled for this week.

It is not a major setback for the company but for safety, the tiles must be attended to.