SpaceX’s Starship explodes into ashes on test; Learned a lot says Musk

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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SpaceX Starship flight test
Image Courtesy; Elon Musk/Twitter

The Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) next-generation Starship spacecraft has exploded minutes after liftoff in an uncrewed test flight from South Texas, cutting short a key step in Mr. Elon Musk’s, SpaceX’s founder, chief executive and chief engineer, development of a rocket vessel to eventually take humans to the moon and Mars.

The flight test was the first for Starship, standing tall at 394 feet (120 meters), mounted atop the company’s new Super Heavy rocket, and the first launch ever for that lower-stage booster, which SpaceX has touted as the most powerful launch vehicle on Earth.

Even though the two-stage rocket ship made it less than halfway to the edge of space, climbing to just under 25 miles (40 km), the flight achieved the primary objective of getting the new vehicle off the ground at liftoff despite some of its engines failing.

While SpaceX officials were heartened by the outcome, the mission fell short of reaching several objectives. The plan was for Starship to soar into space at least 90 miles (150 km) above Earth before it would re-enter the atmosphere and plunge into the Pacific near Hawaii.

But SpaceX said in a statement afterward that the spacecraft “experienced multiple engines out” during its ascent, then “lost altitude and began to tumble,” before the “flight termination system was commanded on both the booster and the ship.”

“Congrats SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship! Learned a lot for next test launch,” Mr. Musk tweeted.

NASA chief Mr. Bill Nelson congratulated SpaceX on Twitter, saying, “Every great achievement throughout history has demanded some level of calculated risk, because with great risk comes great reward.”

A live SpaceX webcast showed the rocket ship rising from the launch tower into the morning sky as the Super Heavy’s Raptor engines roared to life in a ball of flame and billowing clouds of exhaust and water vapor.

The spacecraft reached a peak altitude of about 24 miles (39 km) before its fiery disintegration, SpaceX said. The company also noted that the rocket reached the critical launch point of maximum aerodynamic pressure before appearing to lose control.

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