Debris from Starship launch spread across hundreds of acres

Shawn Knight

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In a nutshell: SpaceX's recent Starship launch and rapid unscheduled disassembly (explosion) may have caused more damage than initially thought. According to a report from the US Fish and Wildlife Service as shared by multiple publications, SpaceX's launch activities on April 20 resulted in a debris field that spread over approximately 385 acres including property owned by SpaceX and land within Boca Chica State Park.

A 3.5-acre fire also broke out around the same time at Boca Chica State Park. Bloomberg reported the fire was caused by SpaceX's actions that day but Fortune noted the Fish and Wildlife Service didn't say the fire was a direct result of the launch or explosion. It seems the jury is still out on that one.

Both publications noted damage to the launch pad, and that chunks of concrete, steel and other objects were thrown thousands of feet away. The agency said pulverized concrete, presumably from the launch pad, was found up to 6.5 miles away.

In a Twitter post on April 22, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the force of the engines when they throttled up may have shattered the launch pad concrete rather than simply eroding it, adding that the engines were only at half thrust when static test fires were conducted.

Shortly after the launch, LabPadre shared footage it recorded of the blowback created when the rocket lifted off and the damage it did to a nearby minivan. In another tweet, Musk said they had started building a huge water-cooled steel plate to go under the launch mount but it wasn't ready in time. Based on static test fire data, they thought the specialized concrete would survive the first launch but that proved incorrect.

Musk added that they expect to be ready for another launch in a couple of months but the Federal Aviation Administration will first need to clear SpaceX for a follow-up attempt with Starship.

SpaceX on Thursday successfully launched a Starlink mission that put 46 satellites into low-Earth orbit, marking the company's 225th launch.

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"pulverized concrete" Dust?

I mean I guess? Dust would tend to refer to natural particulate thought. Also concrete particulate reacts weirdly with water, compared to regular dust. Due to the presence of the minerals that make concrete harden in the first place.
 
Sounds like another case of putting the cart before the horse. NASA has always realized a water cooled launch pad was essential for maintaining a launch pad in good condition. You would think old "wonder child" Musk would have realized that, but then again he doesn't seem to be too interested in details unless it will make a big splash for him in the press.
 
I mean I guess? Dust would tend to refer to natural particulate thought. Also concrete particulate reacts weirdly with water, compared to regular dust. Due to the presence of the minerals that make concrete harden in the first place.
It is the descriptor "pulverized" makes me wonder
 
Sounds like another case of putting the cart before the horse. NASA has always realized a water cooled launch pad was essential for maintaining a launch pad in good condition. You would think old "wonder child" Musk would have realized that, but then again he doesn't seem to be too interested in details unless it will make a big splash for him in the press.
They apparently have the kit for it stored in boca chica, but haven't had time to set it up and get it approved etc., so the word is that they decided to go for it without the water shock buffer as this was a "let's get it in the air, if it crashes, it crashes" kind of launch, and they didn't want to delay it and get approval again
 
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