SpaceX’s Starship completed its first fully integrated launch before exploding; Space called the test a success
Today, SpaceX conducted a test of its next-generation rocket intended for missions to the moon and Mars. However, the rocket exploded during the launch, prompting cheers from employees who had gathered to watch a live stream of the event.
The Starship’s rocket, the most powerful ever developed, blasted into space earlier today but the rocket exploded minutes after it cleared the launch pad during a flight test Thursday. The explosion took place as SpaceX engineers were waiting for the separation.
The cause for the explosion and separation failure was not immediately known, however, the fact that the rocket’s blast-off already meant the test was considered by the company to be a success.
“As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation,” SpaceX tweeted shortly after the test. “Teams will continue to review data and work toward our next flight test.”
The uncrewed rocket was ignited and launched into the sky for approximately four minutes, but the separation of the spacecraft from the booster atop the rocket seemed to have failed. Additionally, some of the 33 engines of the booster appeared not to have ignited. Subsequently, the rocket started to tumble downwards before eventually exploding.
Bill Nelson, the head of NASA, congratulated SpaceX on the test saying:
“Every great achievement throughout history has demanded some level of calculated risk, because with great risk comes great reward,” Nelson wrote on Twitter. “Looking forward to all that SpaceX learns, to the next flight test—and beyond.”
With engines capable of generating 17 million pounds of thrust, the starship is the most powerful rocket ever constructed, designed to transport astronauts to destinations beyond the Moon. Additionally, the starship’s innovative strategy of using reusable launchers could ultimately result in individual flights costing less than $10 million.
Starship plays a key role in NASA’s Artemis program as part of the effort to launch cargo and humans on the moon in 2025. At the 2020 Mars Society Virtual Convention, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reveals the SpaceX Starship launch plan to Mars by 2024.
“I think we’ve got a fighting chance,” Musk said of making the 2024 Mars transport window. Musk said he hopes to soon use Starship to launch people to the moon and Mars.