The third high-altitude test of the SpaceX prototype of the new generation of Mars rockets ended with a successful soft landing on March 3rd. However, the SN10 exploded within minutes of landing.
This week, CEO Elon Musk used Twitter to explain what caused the accident. According to him, the landing was not as smooth as predicted, and the impact of 10 m / s affected the legs and other parts of the rocket’s structure.
In addition to the strong impact, the explosion occurred due to a failure that allowed parts of the fuel to be at certain points in the system after landing. The same problem seen during the testing of the SN8 and SN9 prototypes.
“If autogenous pressurization had been used, the CH4 [methane] bubbles would probably have reverted to liquid. The helium on the platform was used to prevent the collapse of the expansion volume due to the splash, which happened on the previous flight, ”explained the CEO, who apologized for approving the project.
However, the SN10 was the only prototype to complete the soft landing objective. Musk then commented that a fuel problem led to a low thrust in the landing burn and, consequently, the impact that crushed the model’s legs.
As CNET points out, a closer look at the landing shows that the SN10 was a little hotter and faster. As well, it seemed to sway slightly when touching the ground. Then, minutes later, the rocket became a huge ball of fire.