Starship’s last launch caused a worrying amount of damage

  • An investigation into the damage caused by SpaceX’s Starship launch earlier this year has baffled biologists.
  • Biologists were shocked that SpaceX had no flame suppression solution or a way to disperse the force generated by the rocket’s Raptor engines.
  • SpaceX was told to take over 75 actions by the Federal Aviation Authority in June before it could launch a rocket again.

While SpaceX continues to ferry astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) with its Falcon rockets (it did that at the weekend), the real star of the show at the firm is the Starship and Super Heavy Rocket.

In April this year the gargantuan integrated rocket lifted off from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, before exploding mid-air. While that wasn’t great, the launch of the rocket created massive amounts of damage sending chunks of concrete and debris into the nearby dunes and as far as the ocean.

The launch reportedly caused devasting destruction to the local environment according to report from Bloomberg via Mashable. Following a Freedom of Information Act request, Bloomberg obtained reports from the US Fish and Wildlife Services in which biologists assessed the damage caused by Starship’s launch.

The launch left behind a 385-acre debris field, flung concrete chunks 816 meters from the launchpad. The launch also caused a 3.5 acre fire.

Perhaps most alarming is that according to Mashable’s report, biologists weren’t able to investigate the area 48 hours after the launch. This delay was reportedly caused by SpaceX and the delay could have allowed wildlife that had been killed by the launch to be removed by humans or other wildlife.

The report relays that biologists were baffled by SpaceX’s decision to not use flame suppression solutions when it launched Starship. This would have directed energy away from the rocket in a more predictable fashion while also mitigating any damage the launch may have caused.

SpaceX appears to have made some fixes to the launchpad as it’s currently been conducting pre-flight testing for a Starship launch. While a Fish and Wildlife Services official wrote that we “Probably wouldn’t see another launch for a while” that doesn’t track with what we’re seeing at Starbase.

On Friday Starship underwent a static test fire and as can be seen in the video above, there is now water present to mitigate the heat generated by the Raptor engines in the Super Heavy Booster. Whether that will be enough to combat the 3 600 metric tons of force those engines generate isn’t clear at this stage.

However, ahead of the testing on Friday, SpaceX chief executive officer, Elon Musk quipped that the next Starship launch would happen soon.

However, in June the Federal Aviation Authority said that SpaceX had to take over 75 actions to mitigate the environmental impacts of a proposed launch of Super Heavy from Boca Chica.

Part of those actions is to provide more warning ahead of launches and there are 18 days where no launches can happen at all.

While rumours swirl that there may be a launch as soon as this week, those are just rumours at this stage and we’re waiting for official word from the spacefaring firm.


About Author


Related News