What Can We Learn From The Explosion Of The Latest SpaceX Prototype?

Scott Manley
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After several weeks of testing Starship prototype SN4 something went wrong minutes after a successful engine test. A massive fuel leak caused an explosion which wrecked the vehicle and cause significant damage to the test stand. As far as we know nobody was injured and there are prototypes already waiting in the wings to continue tests.
I believe that unlike the first few failures due to welding quality this is not related to the manufacture of the rocket, but in the way it's connected to the ground service equipment that resulted in the propellent loading lines coming loose and spraying liquid methane everywhere.
None of this footage is mine, it's all captured by amateurs in the area, please check out their original work and support them, heck it's worth watching the original stream just for the raw reaction to the event:
Everyday Astronaut

Science & Technology

Published on


May 30, 2020




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Comments 80
Rob Fraley
Rob Fraley 26 days ago
W O W . . . That’s a really good shot of the Explosion 💥 ⚡️🔥🌋🚀 here at 10:00 🕙 😱🤭
peter campbell
peter campbell 27 days ago
Why is the Thunderbirds fast music (Fireflash) playing in my head when watching it - Gerry Anderson would be proud 😁
soinhu foitu
soinhu foitu 29 days ago
OMG I love it so much?
Solexx X
Solexx X 29 days ago
Methane would just burn if it did not also have LOX. The LOX mixture fueled the explosion. If LOX (at higher pressure than the liquid methane) found it's way into the methane tank trough failed piping it would auto-ignite and explode. There is not enough oxygen in ambient air for liquid methane flashing off to explode.
The Watchful Hunter
Why we test.
soinhu foitu
soinhu foitu 29 days ago
Continuous Delivery/Continuous Integration in rocket development. Heh, cool!
Fooks Lee Ho
Fooks Lee Ho Month ago
That it’s a huge waste of money it’s not needed
soinu foig
soinu foig Month ago
“I dannae if she can take any more, Captain!” Scottie Manley
Sakurako Hikari
Sakurako Hikari Month ago
70 miles per hour not 17.
Mac_UK Month ago
This is what Elon refers to as a RUD, Rapid unscheduled Disassembly. Scott can you calculate the speed at which the MS hit the ground for us. Cheers.
soinu foig
soinu foig Month ago
Is SpaceX allowed to make bombs?
Estelon Agarwaen
only good to see that they test everything and find the mistakes.
hen ko
hen ko Month ago
Analyses the heck out of it. :)
mikin lirou
mikin lirou Month ago
spectacular - simply awesome.
Cassie Month ago
“I dannae if she can take any more, Captain!” Scottie Manley
Terry Thomas
Terry Thomas Month ago
If they can't get their procedures correct here on Earth, how are they going to handle the procedures for the return trip from Mars? The last thing anyone wants to happen is to have 100 people who have just spent a year on Mars blow up when they try to come back home!
mikin lirou
mikin lirou Month ago
mass simulator coming from the fuel feeder tube that goes through the center of the rocket?
Chris - DJ Dapper Dan - Brown
Thank you for your clear analysis.
Cassie Month ago
Do you really think that SpaceX will achieve the reusabilty they have promised?
Terry Thomas
Terry Thomas Month ago
The videos would be *much* more informative if the camera operators improved their composition: less foreground water in the shot and more blank space above the test stand.
hen ko
hen ko Month ago
Poor birds...
James Gillespie
James Gillespie Month ago
They should put Falcon heavy lift boosters on the outside of their water tank set up they got going there. That's so the internal structurer won't fail from the upward force from the raptors when the tanks depressurize, that could make it fail. That's what I see in my mind. Rivets failed causing a leak from the raptor tests upward force #4. No internal vertical structural support just relying on the thrust puc and pressurized tanks to prevent the raptor from putting all the upward forces on the tanks. The thrust puc I think it needs some internal titanium vertical I beams the entire length for support to take the upward pressure off the tanks. Starhopper was its limits for stainless steel pressure. Iets hope 5 won't be a bigger explosion.. I think it has an internal structural flaw for such a heavy material.
Blazed Gaming KR
That was so Kerbal. Maybe they should of used moar struts.
Ptao Tom
Ptao Tom Month ago
I learned that explosions almost always look cool
Pixel Issue
Pixel Issue Month ago
den2k88 Month ago
Continuous Delivery/Continuous Integration in rocket development. Heh, cool!
Ra She
Ra She Month ago
There are no mistakes in a test only lessons
Loanword Eggcorn
Thanks Scott. The mass simulator was probably mostly energized upward by the tank dome. The gas jets would have a poor impedance match to the mass simulator in free air. So it was mostly propelled a quick impulse while the tank was still intact. Once the tank is broken, pressure has other paths of much lower resistance to escape from. It's the same reason why the bullets of firearm cartridges ignited (outside of a gun) in a fire don't go very far. 8:26 the shock wave is visible.
SoloSailor Month ago
What was the last thing that went through that bird's mind?
Choco Later
Choco Later Month ago
Is SpaceX allowed to make bombs?
Vorn Ame
Vorn Ame Month ago
We learn: the explosions get bigger and bigger.
teefkay2 Month ago
Scott great analysis excellent observations, great analysis _” they’re running these tests with a partially filled tank _*_as a safety measure_*_ “_ Engineer’comment in notebook: “note: safety measures ... inadequate!!! Someone add an additional shut off valve to the methane feed line with a BIG RED Emergy “methane shut-off button in the Control Room, and instructions that “if you see methane being sprayed all around the base of the rocket, Hit .the .button!!”
Chris Month ago
1:40 "they're building them quickly they're testing them quickly and they're getting destroyed quickly" is what you shold have said
justin gray
justin gray Month ago
Poor birds...
The Lone Phoenix
So is the liquid methane tank on the bottom or top of the rocket, I always imagined liquid methane on the bottom. If liquid methane is on the bottom is the pressure launching the mass simulator coming from the fuel feeder tube that goes through the center of the rocket?
hockeyplay11 Month ago
Do you really think that SpaceX will achieve the reusabilty they have promised?
David M.
David M. Month ago
this looks like the orion project
Carl Siemens
Carl Siemens Month ago
Take-Two Interactive has killed Star Theory and poached their employees. Will you talk about this? Please boycott _Kerbal Space Program 2._ Take-Two doesn't deserve our money.
rick cary
rick cary Month ago
Whos going to volunteer to be the first man to ride on this thing?? 🤔🤔
Konstantin Month ago
8:20 "If you look at the left side of the BOOSTER"
Twig 46
Twig 46 Month ago
man i have that same problem after eating at taco bell
dueeh nyyu
dueeh nyyu Month ago
In the original audio: "Oh, that was not nominal"... hahahaha
Zaleucus Month ago
11:16 what's going on with the distortion in this video? Not only is everything wobbly, but the outline of the stack seems to be wobbling separately from everything inside the outline... is that just atmospheric distortion?
Zaleucus Month ago
@Scott Manley Oh, maybe it's handheld? It looks super interesting for sure.
Scott Manley
Scott Manley Month ago
Yeah that’s in one of the observer’s videos, I think they use some digital image stabilization filter that looks for edges? It’s off for sure.
tom lu
tom lu Month ago
Does anyone think that a new gimbaled GEM solid booster and a light and cheap (except for the reusable and recoverable engines) liquid engine is possible? (Done with steerable parachutes, retractable engine bells, reentry shielding and then getting hooked by helicopter and touching down onto a net on a barge with a helipad) Possible... right?
Headcrab Month ago
Is the approach a bit too experimental? If they have the funds to do it I guess it is ok. A reminder that when the Germans back in the days launched the V2 from mobile platforms they dug a hole under the rocket to solve some issues before launching.
dueeh nyyu
dueeh nyyu Month ago
so..... SN4 let out a big fart and it lit
stardolphin2 Month ago
Meh. The record still goes to the N-1...
Bob Blum
Bob Blum Month ago
Thanks for the footage and analysis, Scott, well done by all parties involved. This reminds me of designing, building and flying model rockets back in the early '70s. It was so much fun when things worked perfectly, but still fun in a different way when things went wacko. Each time we learned something, what worked, what did not, where we could save weight and where to increase structural strength. Shredding cardboard and balsa wood is fun, and recovering a raw Grade A Large hen's egg from 1000+ feet unbroken is a design challenge.
foopyu nooui
foopyu nooui Month ago
I notice that the shock wave of the blast extinguished the flare stack. Just like blowing out a birthday candle.
paradigm respawn
So it's True after All these Years! Saturday's Launch was a "Pre-Recorded" Diversion from the Loss of yet Another US Spacecraft. Bummer. ;
foopyu nooui
foopyu nooui Month ago
moved or more blast shielding added.
Mathew Coleman
Mathew Coleman Month ago
brilliant professional scientific explanations with stunning footage from multiple space geeks - what a fantastic combination!!! 😂
Zoomer30 Month ago
SpaceX gets serious about making people WANT to move.("Hey, if we start blowing shit up, people will sell out and move")
Zoomer30 Month ago
Starship is a long way from flying..... Well, without the Earth shattering kaboom.
Zoomer30 Month ago
At least parts of SN4 achieved orbit.
Chris Laidlaw
Chris Laidlaw Month ago
SN1 was the last ship to fail due to a flaw. SN2 was just made for, and passed cryo test. SN3 failed due to operator error, SN4 operator or ground support equipment failure. I can imagine Elon being annoyed losing the last two ships before a hop with no fault in the ship. Even SN1, the engineers didn't think the thrust puck would work, but put it in anyway.
rabbitslayer42 Month ago
Great footage. That being said, they need MORE cameras...Like a myth-busters setup at least, 15 angles with at least 5 high-speeds ^_^
Aaron Schwarz
Aaron Schwarz Month ago
Everyone fails, winners keep going! Rocket explosions are very common in rocket development due to the complex nature of the machines & all the seams & welds & connectors (tons of failure points) & at that kind of rapid development rate, any kind of glitch in design or fabrication can precipitate an accident like this.
Joshua JSHMRH Month ago
Is it possible that the "mass simulator" served two purposes? One, simulate mass, and the second; to prevent the upper tank from going air born upon an explosion like we saw here with this static fire?
Ian Month ago
Thankfully, minimal loss of Kerbals in this event.
Han Solar
Han Solar Month ago
Very Nice Explosion!
Aron Braswell
Aron Braswell Month ago
I wonder if any components will be salvageable for them
Aron Braswell
Aron Braswell Month ago
so..... SN4 let out a big fart and it lit
Onenanall Month ago
idk.....this looks like a normal day in Kerbal to me lol
RogerWilco Month ago
I always wondered if that tank farm was too close. It seems some of the debris punctured at least one of the "three brothers" water tanks. It looks like the whole thing needs to be moved or more blast shielding added.
spacecadet35 Month ago
I notice that the shock wave of the blast extinguished the flare stack. Just like blowing out a birthday candle.
haemse Month ago
Do they have highspeed cams pointing to the critical locations (with highspeed uplink to save locations)? Do the have any highspeed footage to clearly analyze where the origin of the desasteer is?
ichglotzTV Month ago
There is a white spot exactly where the methane started gushing out and which didn't appear on older pictures. What does it mean?
Crixus Maximus
Crixus Maximus Month ago
Fuel Air Explosion. Secondary also. Mass simulator hit the ground and splashed liquid fuel on the ground into vapor which then ignited as a secondary FAE. Lots of fuels don't burn readily as liquid, but burn OR EXPLODE easily as a vapor. I won't name names for safety, but you can shove a lit match into some liquid fuels without igniting them and put out the match PROVIDED THERE IS NO VAPOR ABOVE THE LIQUID SURFACE.
nibblrrr Month ago
Is the LabPadre footage (10:58) weirdly stabilized? Or is this air turbulence? Ground shake?
vinasu maaj
vinasu maaj Month ago
SpaceX has been seeing some explosive growth lately.
rodgersericv Month ago
Now we know why the propellant tanks are horizontal, to reduce impact from explosions. Are they pointed at the rocket?
chasg76 Month ago
Thank you, Scott Manley, for the great analyisis! And you were right on the money!
SN 4's mass simulator has more flight time than SLS. 🚀
vinasu maaj
vinasu maaj Month ago
Speaking of the welds, I know a guy who machined some parts for the custom welding machines they use on those tanks now. They are pretty impressive.
JackSpeed 439
JackSpeed 439 Month ago
So sn4 completed its test so that’s good.
JackSpeed 439
JackSpeed 439 Month ago
It seems like just 5 min ago we were watching star hopper fly after all the mud that was flung at that. Now sn4 blows as it continues the heritage of the sn series. So sn4 blew, a shame for sure, but not much of a setback really. The sn5 and 6 are a fair way along and sn7 has rings on deck. So all the weak spots in sn4 will have fixes incorporated in all sn’s from hereon in. Also the sn5 that’s better than sn4 ever was plus it’s had flaws fixed will do all the tests whatever they are from the sn4 plus it’s own sn5 tests that are scheduled. So yeah it slows it up but not that much really. The main problem for RUvid creators and watchers is that there is less for us to see. You know the big ticket stuff like engine tests and flights. These just get pushed back. NOT DELAYED as delayed infers that everything on the time line slides. However spacex seems to just condense the tests to achieve more than one goal per test, some tests are superseded and dropped and the tests happen in a shorter time frame and be completed at about the same time that the sn5 tests were meant to be completed anyway. So small delay to the time line but nothing like some are worried about and less test footage to watch on RUvid.
embustero71 Month ago
Barry Allard
Barry Allard Month ago
No Kerbals were harmed during the making of this film.
Barry Allard
Barry Allard Month ago
Hi, my name is RUDdy.
Just Some Asian Swordsman
SpaceX Fail! 😏🙄😎😤
gtoss chddy
gtoss chddy Month ago
Nick Howland
Nick Howland Month ago
center of the explosion is between rocet and flamestick as you can see from the blastdome
roouit patan
roouit patan Month ago
the tiny little details that truly make it worthy of being called a masterpiece, and you are enamored with it all over again. Only with explosions.
gtoss chddy
gtoss chddy Month ago
Scott Manley: If you do the math... Scott Manley: Scott Manley: but you don't even need to do the math because if you watch ... Everybody else: Well, I'll just wa
Bill Karoly
Bill Karoly Month ago
Boom! Never a full moment in Boca Chica.
TheMalarz1989 Month ago
It is harder to cheer for them after learning how they've decimated local communities and wildlife.
exETnuke Month ago
The detonation and resulting shock-wave remind me of the videos of Fuel-Air bombs, not unlike the GBU-43/B.
roouit patan
roouit patan Month ago
SpaceX will probably save a couple hours debriefing the test by watching this. Where do you go for super chilled pure cleverness ? Scott Manley is the man.
chris746568462 Month ago
Building them quickly, testing them quickly, and disassembling them even quicker!
rybářská vrána
interesting that the blast wave blew out the methane flare much like using dynamite to blow out a well fire.
David Coghill
David Coghill Month ago
The best view of the supersonic shockwave is at exactly 3:16, there is a single frame where there's a super sharp arc in the flames, right behind the flare tower.
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