SpaceX’s Starship explodes minutes after landmark launch of world’s most powerful rocket system | Tech News

SpaceX launched its largest, most powerful rocket ever in a landmark test — but it exploded minutes later.

three days after the maiden voyage Abandoned due to a last minute glitchThe Starship took off from Boca Chica in South Texas, with thousands of spectators nearby watching.

Live updates on landmark SpaceX launch

But the rocket system failed to separate as planned and exploded less than four minutes into the flight.

SpaceX Starship underwent a “rapid, unscheduled disassembly prior to phase separation.”

spacex launch
The rocket system launches…
spacex launch
…fly to the sky…
SpaceX's next-generation Starship spacecraft launches on its powerful Super Heavy rocket from the company's Boca Chica launch pad during a short, uncrewed test flight near Brownsville, Texas, U.S., April 20, 2023 Self-destruct afterwards. SpaceX/Handout via Reuters. Resale prohibited. There is no file. This image is provided by a third party.
…but didn’t reach orbit

SpaceX officials still declared the ambitious mission a success, as it marked the first liftoff of Starship and its massive booster rocket.

boss Elon Musk Congratulations to the team for an “exciting test launch”.

Musk has tried to control expectations in advance, saying it has a 50% chance of reaching orbit on the first try.

But more products are planned and he believes there is an 80% chance of success by the end of the year.

“Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months,” Musk tweeted after Thursday’s test.

Elon Musk was seen on a SpaceX livestream shortly after the explosion
Elon Musk was seen on a SpaceX livestream shortly after the explosion

Starship takes big step forward despite finale blowup

tom clark

technology editor


Seeing Starship fly 39 kilometers into the atmosphere, only to fail where the upper stage should separate from its Super Heavy booster, exceeded SpaceX’s expectations — though perhaps not their hopes.

This is the first flight of the Super Heavy booster. The success of this mission will be clearing the launch pad before launch.

It manages to do that and more. About 55 seconds into the flight, it passes a point called max Q, the point at which the spacecraft exerts the highest force before entering the less dense upper atmosphere.

Achieving this goal is an important validation of the rocket’s design and construction.

That’s why when the Starship exploded after tossing and turning in the stratosphere, there were no tears, but cheers. Or a “rapid, unplanned teardown,” as SpaceX puts it.

SpaceX boss Elon Musk in the launch control room. To be fair, he didn’t look agitated when the starship failed to separate.

But he will know that today is an important step in his efforts to build a rocket big enough to one day send people to the moon and Mars.

And, a moment in space history, with the successful launch of the world’s largest rocket.

After all, Musk once said: “If things don’t fail, you’re not innovating enough.”

SpaceX’s record-breaking rocket

Starship consists of two stages – a super-heavy booster that generates the energy needed to reach orbit, and a spacecraft pitched to one day return humans to the Moon and eventually Mars.

Combined, the vehicle and booster – featuring 33 rocket motors – reached a record altitude of 120 meters.

It is hoped that Thursday’s test will see the spacecraft separate from the booster and complete a full orbit around Earth.

On April 20, 2023, SpaceX's next-generation Starship spacecraft, aboard its powerful Super Heavy rocket, performed a brief mission near Brownsville, Texas, U.S., after launching from the company's Boca Chica launchpad. Self-destruct after unmanned test flight. Reuters/Go Nakamura
Thousands of people watched near the launch pad

what could be…

If fully successful, the starship will circle the Earth and crash into the Pacific Ocean.

The booster – a prototype called Booster 7 – will be jettisoned into the Gulf of Mexico.

The entire flight takes about 90 minutes.

Thankfully, there wasn’t any cargo, let alone people, on board Starship when it launched Thursday.

Musk hopes Starship will eventually be used to send satellites into space and send humans to the moon and Mars.

NASA has signed a deal to use it to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2025 through its Artemis program.

Starship’s first orbital test comes after U.S. flight regulators granted SpaceX a five-year license, saying it met all safety and environmental requirements.

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