A screenshot of the Starship Mark 1 overpressure incident, November 20, 2019.
  • A SpaceX prototype rocket experienced a partial explosion during a testing procedure in Boca Chica, Texas, on Wednesday afternoon.
  • The Starship Mark 1 spacecraft was undergoing a pressure test when a portion of its top appear to burst. Heavy plumes of smoke flowed from the vehicle immediately after.
  • Starship is a prototype of a vehicle SpaceX wants to employ for travel to Mars.
  • "The purpose of today's test was to pressurise systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected," a SpaceX spokesperson told The Verge.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

SpaceX's Starship Mark 1 prototype rocket partially exploded during a pressure test in Boca Chica, Texas.

The incident happened Wednesday afternoon and was captured on livestreamed video. During the test, the upper portion of the rocket blew apart and heavy plumes of smoke flowed from the vehicle.

"The purpose of today's test was to pressurise systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected," a SpaceX spokesperson told The Verge, adding: "There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback."

The rocket remained stationary and upright after the event, but it was not immediately clear whether it is salvageable. CEO Elon Musk has previously said SpaceX would build several versions of Starship, including a Mark 2 and Mark 3 prototype.

Asked on Twitter whether SpaceX would proceed with its Mark 3 iteration, Musk seemed to agree: "Absolutely, but to move to Mk3 design. This had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder, but flight design is quite different."

SpaceX has been developing Starship system at its launch site in South Texas. Musk was there in late September to provide an updated on the 164-foot stainless steel Mark 1 rocket, and SpaceX's plan to reach Mars. A launch-ready Starship rocket could carry up to 100 people to Mars, Business Insider's Dave Mosher reported at the time.

Musk said "we could potentially see people fly next year" in the vehicle.

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