What Happened In The Fog At Boca Chica - What Caused SpaceX's Latest Prototype To Explode?

Publicerades den 31 mar 2021
I admit, I'm stumped as to what might have gone wrong, because it looked the tank exploded at altitude rather than simply suffering a pressure failure in the tank. In previous RUD's the Starship tanks haven't shattered into small pieces except until after they hit the ground so whatever caused this was more violent than a simple pressure failure and might be an explosion inside the tank. I hope we find out more.
Post Flight Debris photographed by RGV Aerial
Footage of SN1 & SN11 By NasaSpaceFlight and BocaChicaGal
Footage of SN10 RUD by Trevor Mahlmann
SN11 RUD animation by Nick Henning


  • Scott- "very odd dispersion pattern, not sure what triggered it.." Wind- lol

  • Anything new about the photos that one person got of the flip above the fog?

  • Perhaps you can clear this up for me, When Starship is preparing for a launch is it correct that they chill the Raptors prior to ignition which is all good and popper but when they relight them for the landing burn do the turbo pumps suffer thermal shock between the hot engine and the Cryogenic fuel maybe causing damage and be the reason for the landing failures

  • Hello Scott, Beyond the questions of how does one land Starship, what do you think will Space X do about the cryogenic LOX Starship tank and its effect on the adhesion of the heatshield tiles that will cover the exterior of the craft? Right now, from a TPS standpoint, the Starship looks a lot like an early generation Atlas booster (with curved uneven surfaces that are not large and flat like the Shuttle orbiter underside) that will have to be clothed in adhesive heatshield tiles like in the good old Reagan days. Will the LOX tank inside the Starhip pe covered in spray on foam before being installed inside the Starship? You do remember the difficulties that precluded the combination of the Centaur cryogenic stage and the Space Shuttle Orbiter.

  • Gremlins!

  • *Secret Boom*

  • Wondering if there is a complication when you have a tank failure in the belly flop with the extra dynamics of falling sideways at more than a few mps. I can see an inflight breakup being more dramatic than seen on SN10 because of the airspeed, once the tanks lose rigidity the stainless is going to rip apart under load fairly quickly.

  • It blew up because you were asleep, and thus never got to say “fly safe.”

  • well, why you should know what happened? if you work for their company, then you would know ... they can decide freely what they do share to the public and what they don't. Sure, I'd like to know fore SURE what has happened, like literally millions of folks, too.. ^^ xD ps: X has even some repositories on GitHub (reads: open-source). didn't know for years... ^^ I think the mega big public interest is both, a cure, but also a curse .... if nobody looks or hears (measurements), there literally (I love this w0rd!) anything can and will (have) happen(ed).... Think along with Schrödinger's, not about it 🐈❣️ -- IF you (yes, you reading this and the others() DO_MEASURE_THE_CAT THEN you MAY HAVE killed the cat in the final quantum-collaps to a finite, known state.... DEAD.... you also MAY BE lucky and the l8l kitty is still alive .... but then feed her (it's not an "it" and it's on/non-random) and be nice to anybody else, too..

  • it mgiht be plausible that am echanical hitpressure build up into the tank the nspreads through the fuel as prssure nad causes the tank to pop like in an explosion, then the fuels start mixing not usre how far exactly that would split it up though

  • What kind of HOTAS setup are you running there, Scott? ;) EDIT: I have a Thrustmaster Warthog and it is, indeed, a hog. I love it to death and the switches are so solid and the controls feel so nice in my hands, but it is a bear to set up and configure. Anyway, I was just curious. I'm not up on my higher end joysticks because I haven't flown anything in a sim/game for a while. SIt's just nice to keep up on joystick tech. ;) Too bad you won't see this comment or have the time to read it if you do. Anyway, I love your content. Take care! :) EDIT2: Just in case anyone else stumbles upon this comment in the future... I did some searching and I'm _pretty_ sure that what Scott is using is a Logitech X52 Professional H.O.T.A.S. (joystick and throttle) setup. One can be had for a cool 257 U.S. Freedom Bucks. I was lucky to find my Warthog on sale for $313 a few years ago, but it looks like they've raised the price quite a big. Whew.

  • Elon says he doesn't like a lot of parts. Elon says he has robotaxis, level 5 autonomy, functioning brain chips that can cure diseases, semi trucks, and is going to colonize Mars. All these things are true only in a way a loving mother could see them. Oh, sweetie, you're doing so great! If your predictive model relies primarily on something things Elon says it's not one that has served you well so far.

  • I suppose if you wanted people to see your rocket you wouldn't want to launch it in a thick fog bank. Also if you wanted to gather visual data yourself. I like Elon's style of engineering without all the fuss of predictive modeling and data. I will be on the edge of my seat when the first people get on that thing after they finally get it right. They did get it right this time, right guys?..

  • Jeff Bezos must have fired a missile at it. Rapid Scheduled Disasembly.

  • Now that you mentioned it, what if the explosion was cause by an under cover jet fighter covered in the fog and the bright orange glow in the fog is the misiLe launch and hit the sn11 timed with the engine start up for landing?

  • I wonder if the design keeps blowing up because it is still, GENERALLY speaking, a classic rocket design and the forces involved with "flipping" the thing... the sloshing around of fuel... welp, not all of those forces have been managed.??

    • @thebeaz1 well... With all due respect, THIS IS the testing.

    • Those forces have already been factored into the design and thoroughly tested. As such they are not a factor.

  • Hey Scott! When you do your next video about Boca Chica, would you be able to talk a bit about the thrust ram and what exactly it’s testing? Thanks!

  • Oddly I experienced this and didn't even know it. I was in San Antonio last week and thought I heard thunder. 😧 Sorry I can't add anything more than "it blowed up, blowed up real good" 100 internet points if you get the reference. 🤣

  • The fog showed us the toxic fumes.

  • Elon is good at crashing model rockets.

  • We all know it was shot down by the Chinese!

  • Easy question....You are NOT.

  • "What triggered it" is the flight termination system blowing up the main tank due to the flight going beyond acceptable parameters due to an engine not working right.

  • i got a theory, gases blown back into engine bay seen on vid, one engine not light, gases in engine bay go booooom`, normally gases outside engine bay at startup

  • I actually disliked the Test Flight on SpaceX's YT channel; Why did they have to fly in thick fog?! >:(

  • People are losing faith.. Even when they will finally get it done after another 3 failures everyone will be like: meeh, that is cool but I would not fly it.

  • One thing I really like with Space X is how fast they are in just keep trying.,, their tempo for testing these flights and landings, and no matter if its blows we try again and soon as it is possible.. it is this trial & error tempo, that likely will give them the edge..

  • I'm kinda getting a Mercury-Atlas 1 vibe from this: where the rocket was launched on an overcast/rainy day and the guys at Cape Canaveral couldn't see what the hell was going on. I'm going to say that it was probably a different failure mode for SN11, but the sight issue just reminded me of it.

  • I am curious about the possibility that they may not be telling us the truth in regards to the flight termination system. At some point in time, it seems important to find out how many small pieces and how far they would fly in the event of an intentional RUD. Maybe they thought that with all the upgrades in SN15, they figured that SN11 was somewhat dispensable, and they “had their finger on the button” so to speak, and when things started going south, they decided to test the FTS. It would make sense for them to deny this, at least initially, in case they caused damage or injury by exploding it. Anyway- I think we are all on the edge of our seats to find out if the 100 upgrades on SN15 will fix all previous issues and make it the first flawless prototype. Good luck on your Dear Moon aspirations!!!

  • South Africa continued SDI laser development we could not. Now perfected as a weapon that has come of age, Lasing weapons are so powerful they can be used in our atmosphere and still do the job. STARLINK gas 5 lasers on it, 4 are admittedly for cell-to-cell trunk jumping but the fifth is a laser oc mysterious nature and purpose. When trump said that he could kill in a very public place in daylight and get away with it, this type of weapon is what he had in mind. Every terrestrial and atmospheric 'accident' from these weapons is invisible to the human eye. Unless you know what you are watching for, you will miss it.

  • Ynstjnq believed Used your senses...

  • I always look forward for your analysis videos Scott!. I am curious if the autogenous pressurization system was the cause of this, could this have caused a ignite due to seals?

  • The thumbnail is actually me when my math teacher asks me to find x but I can't even multiple without using my hands

  • they successfully proved that even if you cannot see a Spacex ship. it'll STILL explode,as designed.

  • 0:29

  • To me, it looks like the explosion mus have happened at the upper centre of the rocket. Can't be lower, because then, the engines wouldn't lay so close to each other. Also, tge bottom skirt, the nosecone and the engines are the only recogniseable parts, so the explosion must've been between them.

  • I wonder if all those "dear moon" applications got pulled? 😂

  • Oxidizer and propellant mixed inside pressure tanks before explosion ?

  • I bet an engine exploded sending shrapnel into the tanks

  • They hooked up the atogenous pressurization system backwards.

  • At 28 seconds into the video there seems to be propellant burning above the left "cowling"/engine for a word. May be a leak which built up propellant which then ignited blowing everything up.

    • the leak wouldnt have built up propellant, it was on fire and would have been burning it off. musky stated that this fire was part of the cause though! it burned up some avionics which lead to (from what i can decipher, to me most of it is just technobabble) an over pressure event in one of the turbopumps which became the primary source of the explosion.

  • 👍

  • what kind of drooling idiot tests a new experimental cutting edge hi-tech rocket in THICK PEA SOUP FOG ???

  • The "Real" mission was a secret controlled implosion to create a wormhole to an Alternate Universe. The payload included 2 of each animal as embryos. Lol

  • It was shot out of the sky by Jeff Bezos.

  • Just keep launching them until they start working or we run out of money, says Elon.

  • Too energetic to be FTS, sounds like LOx/Methane premix to detonation. Post test forensics of the debris which is a permeant record of the failure point and brisance indicator of the detonation. Maybe engine #2 had a back flow of propellants intermixing internally. A very Murphy like event to have happened in the fog. Photography would certainly have been a good diagnostic. - K

  • I wonder if something went seriously wrong with the turbo-pumps, causing fuel and oxygen to mix in the tanks?

  • I can tell you exactly what happened. It fall down go boom.

  • Bad idea to launch in thick fog. Data gathering is essential in such experimental flights where so many things may go wrong. Of course they have tons of sensor information but a few good images would have been very helpful in establishing what went wrong.

  • Could be it a structural failure with the tank? What I mean is, is it possible that when the engines fired that the force of the and engines and the aerodynamics of the nose caused it to ‘fold’ in on itself thus creating a mixture and large explosion, or maybe just the energy from it folding in half could cause a large debris field.

  • 6:53 "Internal explosion, you said? It appears it was an... inside yob. YEAAAHHH

  • Here's what I think could be an important question for Space X. They spend Millions of dollars on each SN Rocket and then it explodes during a test to make it reusable. They are spending over a Billion dollars without recouping a cent. Of course, they are getting close to reusability but have many milestones yet to achieve. All this while building their launch facility and production facility. I wonder if they would consider trying to make some money in a "Disposable launch vehicle"? Soon, they should be able to launch a payload with Starship. They could plan for it's demise. Then, after the payload is launched, they get paid, and then continue to test the vehicle to develop its reusable capabilities. At least they'd get some return out of the development process they are not getting now!

  • What is the possibility that the centripetal forces of going from horizontal to vertical while winding the engines up, and those pumps are essentially high speed centrifuges, what kind of un-resolved torque could be the problem they are having with the flip-landings? Perhaps a need to go to vertical sooner, just on flaps and thrusters and Then start engines while in the upright position, thus no added engine pump torque and RUD situations?

  • Scott - a thought. It seems that the main issue is the poor fuel/oxygen feed to the motors. What if the tanks had a baffle from the bottom (being the bottom when the spacecraft is falling in its wings) sufficiently up the tank so that there was enough fuel aft of it to run the landing burn. So, say the baffle was 10 metres up (as in towards the nosecone), and say covered half to 3/4 of the tank area, also the fuel outlet, instead of being in the centre of the tank is at the bottom edge. When in vertical flight, the fuel would run from the full tanks to the engines as normal. When the rocket flips to a horizontal position the fuel to the aft of the baffle would fill the tanks to the level of the top of the baffle, and the remainder would slosh around the tank towards the nose. When starting the motors in a horizontal position, there would be enough fuel to keep them happy (especially if the exit was "below" the centre of the tank), and if the burn were to continue to landing, the remaining fuel would flow down from above the baffle to keep the motors going. This seems to me to be a relatively simple engineering problem to be solved, and does not involve extra small tanks, helium pressure etc.. I should like to send a sketch if you are interested. What do you think?

  • Scott, what do you think about the flame licking around the body of the engine when ascending? It looked like some sort of leaky connection.

  • This week i was listening to the radio in my car. I smoke too much so i don't remember the exact topic and conversation unfortunately, but it was a short bit about rockets/spaceX. They played a little clip of an expert giving his thoughts. Lo and behold, i recognized that voice. Scott Manley was on the dutch radio !

  • I'm guessing that the pipe from the lox tank through the methane tank was on the south side of the ship?:

  • Exactly what I was thinking about a few seconds ago watching their latest video

  • It looks like tin foil

  • We are past explodey boom boom. Why so many boom booms?

  • Can't wait until the BN series tests begin. Should be really exciting.

  • It's fun when children run rocketry, for low wages! What could possibly go wrong repeatedly? Break things! It's glorious!

  • 0:26 ? Anyone? Anyone?

  • Thick fog at midnight new moon is next.

  • Great video

  • At the very least they'll need to upgrade the integrity of the tanks. That could mean making them heavier and costing them performance though.

  • Consider adding a combustion inhibitor to the LCH4 to provide a combustion speed closer to Kerosene ? . . . this might make re-light dynamics easier to predict/control ala Merlin !

  • The weather radar image of SN11 is incorrect, Boca Chica is south of Port Isabel. That little lagoon just under Port Isabel has a peninsula jutting out from the coast inland in a slightly southward direction, that's Boca Chica. There's a tiny little blue dot of reflectivity there which is probably from the high bay because it's about 2 miles east of the launch site.

  • Taking off in the fog makes no sense at all, unless you want to hide something. Hide what? Perhaps that the testing item on this flight was the effectiveness of the self-destruct mechanism.

  • Mr ELON MUSK isn't testing enouth all the components/pieces/engines!!! He needs study carefully how are NASA procedures to make a good job! And I don't understand how he intends to land this enormous Starship on MARS (if it reachs this planet): all aerodinamic tests he is doing is useless because MARS atmosphear is barely thinner and it'll be necessary a FULL TIME ENGINES OPERATION!!! And where will be the FUEL? THIS ENORMOUS SHIP must stay in orbit, NOT LANDING! , like the NASA'S ORION/ARTEMIS well thinking/engeneering Project.

  • could it have been a leakage of methane into the lox header tank line that was ignited when the raptors relighted? That would have broken up the craft in a very similar way to the flight termination system would it not?

  • I'm sure we'll understand more when they blow up the next one.

  • Lol what a shit show

  • I prefer Boca chicas on my senoritas

  • Failure on the South facing side of the rocket, pushing the debris to the north.

  • Might have to beef up Raptor engine plumbing & structure to endure a whole lotta shaking going on. Elon needs 6 degree of freedom accelerometers to measure vibrations and resonances ... and accurate FEA models tweaked by measured results to adequately simulate this. I suggest high speed close up cameras to measure vibration movement of reference dots on 100 critical parts of the Raptor. Then verify the Finite Element Analysis model of the Raptor matches the measurements.

  • Hats off to those who still didn't wanna move house

  • 0:27 is that orange flame up above the nozzle normal?

  • I'm an official SM groupie and I aint even ashamed!

  • why doesnt musk offer you a job already

  • SKYLON is the only inherently safe and efficient SSTO concept that's currently in the works, vertical takeoff and landing conventional rocketry is dumb for a huge variety of reasons.

  • It was another f*cking seagull. I hate them too.

  • After every crash.. i just remind myself this is still just another step towards the first sidewinder.

  • Exactly why they launched it in fog, keeps prying eyes seeing it blow up then spreading the spectacular rocket blowup spread all over youtube. That's o good thing the explosion was hidden from public view.

  • What is causing the fire event in the piping at around 0:30? It looks almost like some hot propellant is leaking? By the looks of it, the yellow flame would indicate a fuel rich combustion, or another material burning...

  • What happened? The thing blew itself to bits. That's what happened.

  • What a waste!! The program is a failure. I could finance a small town educational resources for a year with this wasted $. Plan better.

  • I wonder how much the fog slows down the investigation. I know they have to evacuate a small village every time they make a test and that costs a lot but i wonder if the investigation would now cost much more than a scrub. I also guess the FAA doesn't care if the day was foggy, they require the same minimum safety guarantees. So maybe no more foggy launches for tests?

  • I just read through many of the comments posted on this site. A lot of them are hilarious.

  • Scott, I am one of many of your devoted fans. You have by far the best space-related SEnewss broadcast. I watch them all. I am writing to ask you where did you get that super model of the Saturn V Rocket and Launch Tower? I know you are very busy. But, if you could find the time would you please do a video or where are you get your models from? By the way sn10 was a truly reusable rocket. It is the only one that I know of that launched twice in a matter of minutes. Sincerely, David in Orlando Florida

  • This is the third or fourth time the engines have failed. I'm my opinion there's someone in the engineering that wants to see spacex fail or something. There's probably an employee that's sabotages the missions..... Or maybe the engineers just aren't doing their jobs.... Something needs to change because this is happening to many times. If there is a person in the company that's perhaps not installing components correctly needs to be found and arrested.

  • I'll just stop speculating and say it was a submarine-to-air missile. ;)

  • Why is no one talking about the stupidity of launching in fog? Visual observation is a key element in test evaluation.

  • RUD = rapid unintentional dissassembly?

  • "What happens in the fog, stays in the fog"

  • This is the nature of rocketry and always has been.

  • Clearly aliens

  • Scott, serious question here as all the armchair youtube experts keep saying my idea is stupid..... can't they rig up a set of engines and tanks on a machine that allows the horizontal and vertical aspects of the flight happen but with it static on the ground? Let the rig slosh around during the various stages of flight without sending up a full on starship? Something is clearly happening with the engines when they are being flipped around which they don't like? They could do lots of shorter manoeuvres on this static rig to maybe iron out some of the problems without blowing up expensive ships every time?

    • Yota Toomy you forget deceleration in the forward direction combines vectorially with the gravity vector to determine what direction is “the lower level”

    • @Yota Toomy Yes exactly my point! The newness of what Starship is trying to do has led to forces being put on the engines and tanks but to my small knowledge they never tested all that sloshing around before the first flip test...was that SN9? If they have done these static tests i will concede but it seems like they are trying to run before learning to walk? I don't like ship after ship crashing for what is seemingly the same problem......the engines don't like lighting after the tanks have been horizontal?

  • never launch in fog again. Test or regular