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Watch this SpaceX Raptor engine blow up during testing

An explosion occurred on Thursday at SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, sending flames and a huge plume of smoke into the sky.

Reports from NASASpaceflight, which runs a live stream of the site, suggested it occurred during the ground-based testing of a Raptor rocket engine of the kind used by the company’s next-generation Starship rocket.

The raptor testing stand at McGregor experienced an anomaly a few moments ago. The vapors from the anomaly caused a secondary explosion on the test stand.


— Chris Bergin – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 23, 2024

SpaceX has offered no update on the explosion, and with personnel kept a safe distance from the testing location, there are unlikely to have been any injuries, or worse, as a result of the explosion.

SpaceX uses its McGregor facility to test its Merlin and Raptor engines prior to flight, with the former destined for the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.

The Starship’s first stage, the Super Heavy, flies with 33 Raptor engines that produce a colossal 17 million pounds of thrust at launch, making it the most powerful rocket ever built — by some margin.

The Starship has already flown three test flights and SpaceX is expecting to send it on its fourth flight in a matter of weeks.

The first two Starship test flights, both of which launched from SpaceX’s Starbase launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas, ended in explosions just minutes after launch, while the third flight, in March, lasted around 45 minutes and managed to achieve many of the mission goals.

Once fully tested and licensed, the Starship could be used to carry cargo and crews to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program, which will also utilize the space agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for similar missions. The Starship could even fly the first humans to Mars, though there is still much work to be done before such an ambitious mission can take place.

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