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SpaceX Starship Prototype Partially Bursts During Testing

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SpaceX's Starship rocket prototype was damaged while undergoing pressurization testing on Wednesday evening.

Video from the vicinity of SpaceX's Boca Chica test facility in Texas showed white plumes erupt from the top part of the Starship Mark 1 vehicle while it was undergoing a pressurization test.

The eruption blew off the upper bulkhead high into the air and it fell back to the ground several seconds later.

The vehicle was not fully assembled at the time and was undergoing a series of tests without its conical nose section. While the vehicle continued to stand upright after the eruption, the extent of the damage was not known.

"The purpose of today's test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected. There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback," SpaceX said after the incident, according to reports.

SpaceX was founded in 2002 by billionaire Elon Musk, who is also the Chief Executive of luxury electric car maker Tesla Inc.

The Starship is a fully reusable spacecraft design that will be powered by six Raptor engines and will be used to send crew and cargo to deep space destinations like the Moon and Mars. SpaceX plans to launch commercial payloads using Starship in 2021.

During an event on September 28 in Boca Chica, SpaceX showed off the initial prototype of the Starship, known as the Mark 1.

At that time, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the company planned to start suborbital flight tests of the vehicle to an altitude of about 12.5 miles, or 20 kilometers, later this year.

SpaceX reportedly said it had decided not to fly the Mark 1 vehicle even before Wednesday's test and is now focused on developing another prototype, labeled the Mark 3.

Musk too said on Twitter after Wednesday's incident that SpaceX will now move on to the Mark 3 design, instead of repairing the Mark 1.

"(Mk-1) had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder, but flight design is quite different," Musk tweeted.

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