SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed that the damage after the explosion of the super heavy booster of the Starship system was not serious, and "may" will be next. Zhou returned to the launch pad.
On Monday, the No. 7 Super Heavy booster exploded during a ground test at SpaceX's launch site in southern Texas, before being removed from the launch pad by engineers. "The damage is minor, but the booster will be moved back to the upper chamber for inspection, possibly back to the launch pad next week," Musk said in an email.
During a pre-launch test of the No. 7 Super Heavy booster on the launch pad on Monday, part of the engine suddenly caught fire and a shock wave swept across the SpaceX launch site.
SpaceX has launched early prototypes of the upper half of the Starship system several times to about 6 miles above the ground, but never the full version of the Starship system nearly 400 feet (121.92 meters) high. on track. This is a more challenging task.
The company plans to conduct its first orbital flight test by the end of this summer, aiming to achieve a key long-delayed goal in the rocket's development process, but Monday's accident has raised concerns about SpaceX's ability to complete the test as planned.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees the safety of rocket launches and re-entry, said it had "close contact" with SpaceX after the explosion. But because the explosion did not occur during an official launch event, the FAA said it would not launch a formal investigation.
Musk has previously said that SpaceX transported the super-heavy booster back to the high module to conduct a closer inspection of the 33 rocket engines on board.
Musk also tweeted Wednesday that if the tests go well, an orbital flight test of the Starship system could take place "as soon as next month."
The Starship system is Musk's core spaceflight device for delivering humans and cargo to the Moon and Mars. Last year NASA selected the Starship system to send astronauts to the lunar surface.
SpaceX is developing the Starship system at its sprawling facility in Boca Chica, Texas, and plans to launch Starship into space in the future from a launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.