When SpaceX first launched its Starship atop the Super Heavy booster, it didn’t quite make the trip due to issues with a number of the engines not firing or failing leading to not enough boost for the rocket. Because of this, it was terminated in the air raining debris. While at the same time, the launch destroyed the launch pad sending concrete and other parts everywhere.
The company learned a lot from that launch, leading to it wanting to try again within 6-8 weeks. However, the FAA required SpaceX to improve its launchpad to prevent the same damage from occurring again. Something the company is going to want to do anyway due to obvious financial benefits.
Those improvements have come to be with a giant flame deflector, comprised of a steel plate and a powerful water jet system. The whole idea is to reduce the amount of heat on the launch pad area and to prevent it from breaking apart and being sent everywhere in pieces. Something it looks like it will do just fine. You can see this in the following video that SpaceX shared on Twitter. Allowing you to view it in slow motion as water comes bursting out of it (which is quite impressively shot).
Additional view of Starship flame deflector test pic.twitter.com/fOLVfAZVZ2
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 28, 2023
Of course, EPA is now investigating the company as complaints have been filed, claiming that the company didn’t obtain the proper environmental permits for building out the system. This is driven by concerns that the runoff could potentially drive pollutants into the surrounding ecosystem.
If the EPA finds the company at fault for this, it could delay the next launch even further and likely come with some significant fines.
Hopefully, the company did cross its T’s and dot its I’s properly as it has enough setback risks from the FAA’s approval (or not) of the system alone.