SpaceX’s New Rocket Launch Cut Short By Explosions

SpaceX launched its Starship mega-rocket but lost both booster and spacecraft in dual explosions minutes into Saturday’s test flight.

The rocket reached space from South Texas before communication was abruptly severed. SpaceX officials indicated that the ship’s self-destruct system likely caused it to explode over the Gulf of Mexico.

Moments earlier, the detached booster had indeed exploded over the Gulf. Nevertheless, its purpose had been fulfilled.

The Saturday demonstration spanned around eight minutes, approximately twice the duration of the initial April test, which also concluded in an explosion. The latest flight concluded as the ship’s six engines were nearly finished firing to set it on a global trajectory.

Standing at nearly 400 feet, Starship holds the title of the largest rocket ever constructed, designed with the ambition of transporting people to the moon and Mars.

SpaceX employee John Insprucker commented, “The real topping on the cake today that successful liftoff.” He noted that all 33 booster engines fired as designed, which was not the case on the previous attempt.

The booster also smoothly disconnected from the spacecraft, which ascended to 92 miles in altitude.

Commentator Kate Tice said, “We got so much data, and that will all help us to improve for our next flight.”

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, observed from launch control at the southern tip of Texas, near Boca Chica Beach. Simultaneously, at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, employees celebrated as Starship ascended during the daybreak.

The atmosphere turned somber once it became evident that the spacecraft had been destroyed.

The initial goal for SpaceX was to reach an altitude of 150 miles, sufficient for the bullet-shaped spacecraft to circumnavigate the globe before descending into the Pacific near Hawaii.

After the flight demo in April, SpaceX implemented numerous improvements to both the rocket and the launch pad.

On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration granted clearance for the rocket’s flight, having verified the fulfillment of all safety and environmental requirements.

Following Saturday’s launch, the FAA stated that no injuries or public damage had been reported.

An investigation is in progress to identify the cause of the incident. The FAA specified that SpaceX is prohibited from launching another Starship until the review is concluded and necessary corrections are made.

NASA relies on Starship to deliver astronauts to the moon by the end of 2025 or shortly thereafter. The space agency has awarded SpaceX a $3 billion contract to facilitate the transfer of astronauts from its Orion capsule to Starship in lunar orbit before descending to the lunar surface.

Starship stands 34 feet taller than NASA’s Saturn V rocket, which transported astronauts to the moon over half a century ago, and 75 feet taller than NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, which completed an uncrewed lunar orbit last year. It also boasts roughly double the liftoff thrust.