In 2019, Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket company built a thing of beauty: a giant rocketship built of shining stainless steel in the fields of West Texas. Today, that rocketship lies in a heap of scrap metal.
The Starship in question, dubbed "SN1," was undergoing pressure testing over the weekend preparatory to a suborbital test launch that was supposed to take the vessel straight up 20 kilometers, and then straight back down 20 kilometers to land on its tail. Sadly, SN1 will now never make that trip.
On Friday night, SpaceX was filling one of SN1's fuel tanks with liquid nitrogen (to test its ability to contain the pressure) when suddenly, the tank burst, the gas escaped, and SN1 literally imploded under the (lack of) pressure -- crumpling like a jock smashing a beer can against his forehead -- and hurling SN1 straight up into the sky before it came crashing back down.
Never to worry, though, say SpaceX fans. Failure is just part of the process of testing, failing -- and keeping on testing and failing until finally SpaceX gets it right:
TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST FAIL TEST PASS CERTIFY TEST AGAIN DATA DATA DATA LAUNCH SUCCESS LEARN REPEAT🚀❤️ @elonmusk #spacex #engineering #starship #spacexsn1 #rocketscience #STEM— Abby Garrett (@abbygarrettX) March 1, 2020
Musk, too, seemed to laugh off the implosion:
So ... how was your night? https://t.co/tbJDYIQjXd— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 2, 2020
SN1 may be no more, but one thing still is sure:
SpaceX will continue innovating and testing until it gets Starship right -- or proves to itself that the concept won't work and tries something different. In demonstration of which, an "SN2" Starship is being built even as we speak ... right next to the ruins of SN1.