Starship Prototype Catches Fire After a Recent Test, But Appears Undamaged - Sun 21 Jul 08:48 GMT

Despite the fireball that engulfed the Starshopper this past week, both the vehicle and its Draco engine appear to be unscathed.

  Back in April, the company lost one of its new Crew Dragon capsules when an explosion occurred during a static firing test of their In-Flight Abort test vehicle.

  While the crews were test firing the prototype Raptor engine, a sudden fire resulted.

  The Starhopper test vehicle is equipped with one Raptor engine and is set to perform a series of “hop” tests in the coming weeks and months.

  Much like SpaceX’s hop tests using the “Grasshopper” rocket, this will consist of the vehicle igniting its engine, flying to increasingly high altitudes, hovering for a short period of time, and then using the engine again to make a controlled descent to the ground.

  These tests will gauge the engine’s ability to send the BFR system (not to mention heavy payloads and crews) into space and then land again, thus fulfilling Musk’s vision for an entirely reusable system.

  This most likely means that the site crews are taking this time to examine the engine and the test vehicle to determine the cause of the fireball.

  There is no word at this time as to when the untethered hop test will be taking place, but if there is indeed no damage to the engine, it’s not likely that observers at the Boca Chica test facility will be waiting long to see it.