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Telling-Slash-Losing Fortunes

Elon Musk Says His Great Intellect Predicted That Starship Would Explode

byMaggie Harrison Dupré
5.2.23, 2:33 PM EDT
Getty Images/Gilbert Carrasquillo

"Roughly what I expected."

Crystal Ball

Thought the scene that was SpaceX blowing up its own Starship rocket mid-flight looked a little, uh, unplanned? Well, CEO Elon Musk says he knew that the rocket would explode, actually. Joke's on you!

The unfortunate explosion, which went down on April 20, was "roughly what I expected," Musk said in — what else — a Twitter Spaces session on Saturday, as The Washington Post reports.

Sure. It's a bold thing to say, considering that the explosion, which lit a significant portion of a protected national park on fire and coated the surrounding area in rocket debris, has since launched a fairly serious FAA investigation into SpaceX.

But then again, Musk's attempts at launching one of SpaceX's massive Starships have generally ended with flames. At this point, what else should he — or anybody else — expect?

Trial-by-Error

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson appears to be on the controversial billionaire's side, testifying in Congress last week that the explosive test flight didn't worry him in the slightest.

The explosion "is not a big downer in the way that SpaceX does things," Nelson told Congress, according to WaPo. "They are hardware-rich... that's their modus operandi. They launch. If something goes wrong, they figure out what it is. They go back, and they launch it again."

And to Nelson's point, all of Musk's ventures, from Twitter to Tesla to SpaceX, generally tend to operate by way of trial-by-error. But the ethics are certainly up for debate.

It's one thing to do some trial-by-error testing if you're doing, say, long division, or trying to build a lightbulb. It's another to blow up rockets in the sky, causing unpredictable harm to nearby environments and putting animal and plant life, people, and property in harm's way.

Just a Lil' Dust

Still, according to Musk, the explosion was small beans — and as far as he knows, didn't wreak any harm on nearby environments. Not any "meaningful" destruction, at least.

The launch "did kick up a lot of dust," the billionaire reportedly said elsewhere in the Spaces chat, but "there has not been any meaningful damage to the environment that we're aware of."

And in true Musk fashion, the SpaceX CEO says that he's pretty much positive that another Starship should reach orbit pretty soon. There's that great intellect, at it again.

"I don't want to tempt fate, knock on wood," said Musk, according to WaPo, "but I think close to 100 percent chance of reaching orbit within 12 months."

More on Starship going kaboom: Here's a Video of Every Time Starship Has Exploded So Far


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