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Elon Musk’s Starship spacecraft buries launch complex in -196C ‘liquid nitrogen’ during bungled test

ELON Musk's Starship prototype covered a launch complex in huge plumes of frosty liquid nitrogen during a test failure.

The icy chemical was being used as part of a propellant test, and is at least -197C – and often much colder.

Dramatic footage captured by the NasaSpaceflight blog shows the rocket blowing open during a test on Wednesday.

A cloud of cryogenic fluid can be seen erupting from the vehicle's upper bulkhead.

In a statement, SpaceX said: "The purpose of today's test was to pressurise systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected.

"There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback."

The most likely candidate for the fluid is liquid nitrogen, an extremely cold form of nitrogen used to rapidly cool objects.

It's also possible that the chemical was liquid oxygen, which turns from liquid to gas at -183C.

In either case, the temperature of the fluids involved would've been very chilly.

The Starship appeared to be largely intact after the event, although the structure would've been put under immense pressure.

Earlier this month, Elon Musk revealed that his Starship spaceports will float 20 miles out to see.

And passengers will be carted to them from the mainland via underground shuttles.

Musk tweeted: "Most Starship spaceports will probably need to be ~20 miles / 30km offshore for acceptable noise levels, especially for frequent daily flights, as would occur for point to point flights on Earth."

He wrote this while replying to a fan about how far reusable space travel had come within the last decade and stated that his Falcon rocket is around 80% reusable.

He said that currently the Falcon re-flight takes several days and requires boats.

Musk's Starship rockets are intended to be fully reusable.

Musk said: "Starship will be fully reusable with booster re-flight possible every few hours & ship re-flight every 8 hours. No boats needed."

With no boats at all you may wonder how people would even reach the offshore rocket platforms.

Musk has previously suggested that SpaceX will use fast underground shuttles designed to take people from the city centre to an ocean spaceport in under 15 minutes.

However, not all cities are close to the sea so some shuttle trips could be longer than others.

According to Inverse, a London Starship would have to be at least 60 miles from the city centre, which would surely mean a longer shuttle ride.

Starship is being designed to rocket as many as 1,000 people anywhere on Earth in under one hour.

The plans are expected to take around ten years to see through.

A fully-equipped Starship rocket is still yet to be launched but associated test flights have happened.

Starship is SpaceX's largest project to date and combines the Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket.


What is the SpaceX Starship?

Here's what you need to know...

It can lift 110 tons of cargo into low earth orbit and has the potential to transport people and cargo between any two points on Earth.

It would essentially work like a ballistic missile.

The Starship would be launched, accelerate into low-earth orbit and shoot towards a landing pad at 18,000 miles an hour.

This would be faster than any current transportation system.

Once it had reached the area above its destination, Starship would then de-orbit and use its rocket engines for a safe landing.

According to Popular Mechanics, a Starship trip between Nebraska in the US and the United Arab Emirates would take about half an hour.

Musk is the only billionaire with big spaceport plans though.

Sir Richard Branson recently unveiled the spaceport that he will use to fire space tourists into orbit next year.

His wacky space venture Virgin Galactic plans to charge £200,000 a ticket to launch passengers from the New Mexico port.

Virgin Galactic had been carrying out test flights from Mojave, California - including the first successful launch of its tourism rocket plane into space in December last year.

Over 600 people have already paid £64.2million of deposits to the company to secure their tickets on the first spaceflights.

The firm also revealed the interior of its "Gateway to Space" building at the spaceport.

The glitzy structure includes two floors primarily focused on spaceflight operations, and a further floor of communal spaces specifically designed for future customers.

Elon Musk unveils new SpaceX Starship for private round-trips to Moon and Mars

In other news, Starship could be used by the US Army to transport troops and supplies around the world in "minutes".

Elon Musk has sent a tweet via space using controversial internet satellites that could ‘trap humanity on Earth’.

An alien comet visiting our solar system is ‘like nothing ever seen before’, top scientists say.

And this stunning Earth ‘timelapse’ photo taken from space reveals huge field of thunderstorms, giant wildfires and bright city lights.

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