Company SpaceX had a failed pressure test of a prototype SN3 second stage of the rocket Starship: after pumping one of the fuel tanks of liquid nitrogen to the missile body is deformed, and then split into two parts, of which the whole apparatus was virtually destroyed. The time of the destruction of the rocket can be seen in the broadcast NASASpaceFlight.
Starship — it’s advanced super-heavy carrier rocket, which SpaceX in one form or another has been under development for several years and plans to use as a replacement for rockets, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. It has a two-stage design where second stage while simultaneously acting as a space ship and is completely reusable due to the fact that both stages will be able to land after reaching orbit. Starship will run on methane-oxygen engines of the Raptor and the company plans to equip the second stage of the ability to refuel in orbit to dramatically increase its capacity for interplanetary flights. According to the current version of the documentation, without refueling Starship can withdraw a weight of more than a hundred tons to low earth orbit and 21 tons into geosynchronous transfer.
When you create a Starship SpaceX has abandoned the traditional approach of development work. This led to the fact that after the announcement of the project, the company repeatedly changed the basic parameters of the missile such as the capacity and the material of the housing, and at an early stage embarked on the development and testing of intermediate prototypes in order to test the efficiency and feasibility of technical solutions. Moreover, the prototypes operate separate Autonomous teams of engineers to ensure that each of them could use on their prototypes of different solutions, and eventually to find the optimum configuration for the project as a whole.
However, the approach with the uncertain appearance of the project and early prototypes have already led to several accidents, the latest of which happened on 3 April at a test site SpaceX spaceport in Texas. The tests involved prototype SN3. Before you start testing the engines and flight, SpaceX planned to test the fuel tanks of the apparatus to withstand pressures and temperatures typical of the flight. During these test tanks is not fuel and oxidizer, because it is dangerous, and nitrogen, which in the case of the destruction of the tanks not to catch fire. In these tests the upper tank designed for liquid oxygen, was injected in liquid nitrogen and the lower tank was pumped nitrogen with a normal temperature.
At the end of the test steel body of the rocket began to deform in a lot of places in the area, which is located approximately between the two tanks. After this part of the body above the warp field began to lean and fell to the ground. After the accident, Elon Musk saidthat while the engineers carried out the data analysis, but previously said that the reason could be error in the test parameters.
From the editor
Judging by what happened only a specific and relatively narrow part of the body, and how it is deformed, it can be assumed that both tank at this point remained intact, but the body could not stand the pressure of the upper tank filled with liquid nitrogen.