Owned by Elon Musk, the aerospace manufacturing company SpaceX was founded with the aim of creating low-cost transportation to space in order to enable the colonization of Mars and can carry humans to other planets as well. The company has several achievements to its name. In 2008, it became the first company to launch the first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket which reached orbit. In collaboration with NASA, SpaceX has flown 20 cargo resupply missions till December 2020 to the International Space Station.
However, while working on technologically advanced spacecrafts, SpaceX has also encountered failures. On Tuesday, February 2, the prototype of the SpaceX Starship rocket exploded at its landing. The SN9 was launched from Boca Chica, Texas and while attempting a landing, the rocket exploded. This prototype was being designed to carry tons of cargo and humans for future space missions. SpaceX rockets have exploded earlier as well. However, this is not the first time that the SpaceX rockets have exploded. Let’s take a look at all the times it has happened in the past:
1. In December 2020, the first super heavy-lift Starship by SpaceX SN8 exploded. Similar to SN9, this one also exploded at the time when it was attempting to land. In a video, it can be seen that when the rocket returned for its landing, it caught fire after an explosion.
2.A prototype of the Starship rocket exploded in May 2020. After the engine was ignited, the rocket was engulfed in flames, damaging the site of the test as well. After this incident, Elon Musk had directed the company to focus on crewed flight instead of Starship missions.
3. During a test run, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket exploded before its launch in December 2016. At that time, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook was sending its satellite AMOS-6 satellite to orbit. This was supposed to provide wireless connectivity to large portions of sub-Saharan Africa. However, SpaceX bounced back and successfully launched Falcon 9 in January 2017.
4. During a testing of the SpaceX capsule, it exploded at Florida’s Cape Canaveral. It was later found that the explosion had happened due to a leaky component. Used as a liquid oxidiser in the engines of spacecraft, nitrogen tetroxide entered high pressure tubes for helium. This was the cause behind the explosion.
5. In June 2015, the Dragon SpX-7 aircraft which was carrying cargo for the International Space Station exploded. Powered by SpaceX’s Falcon 9, the cargo on the unmanned craft had spacewalking equipment and systems hardware along with food and care packages.