Today, in news that doesn’t do much to assuage our bone-deep certainty that Tom Cruise is going to die up there: Elon Musk’s SpaceX suffered another one of those high-impact oopsies that have become part of its stock in trade of late. Per TechCrunch, today’s pyrotechnic whoopsiedoodle involved a static fire test for its new Starship SN4 prototype engine, which seemed—as far as we can tell from the video—to be going pretty well, right up until the ding-dang thing exploded.
Tech nerds have been quick to hop on to social media this afternoon to reassure folks about the explosion, though, noting that a) this is why you test things like rocket engines extensively before you let people near them, and b) that this equipment has nothing to do with SpaceX’s big crewed Dragon launch, still scheduled to run this weekend—and we’re sure that’s exactly what the astronauts concerned are also repeating to themselves, probably several times a minute, for the next day or two.
SpaceX has yet to issue a formal statement on the Starship explosion, although it’s believed that no one was harmed in the blast. This is the fourth Starship prototype to have been destroyed during testing over the last two years, although this has been by far the most high profile; The Atlantic’s Marina Koren posted reports on Twitter today from nearby residents, stating that the blast felt like an earthquake from two miles away. There are several more Starship prototypes in development although, obviously, the company will have to repair any damage from today’s blast to its Texas launch facility before seeing how they perform.
SpaceX is currently in a partnership with NASA to develop components for various space exploration projects, as well as with Tom Cruise, who’s teaming up with the company to film a movie that takes place in literal outer space. Here’s hoping all the bugs get ironed out before that project moves forward, because we’re pretty sure that if you let a guy who’s been on the Joe Rogan podcast blow Tom Cruise up in a rocket, they don’t let you go to space any more.