SpaceX launched its next-generation Starship cruise vehicle on April 20th above the company’s Super Heavy booster rocket in a test flight.
The rocket did manage to get off the ground and briefly take flight. Unfortunately, the combo exploded moments later, making for an anti-climactic finish to a highly-anticipated event. Thankfully, no passengers were aboard the rocket and no one was hurt.
The company has described the incident as a “rapid unscheduled disassembly.”
As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 20, 2023
Despite the explosion, the rocketship was an impressive feat before it took off, standing at a staggering 120m tall (394 ft.) The launch was conducted just east of Brownsville, Texas, at the company’s Starbase spaceport and test facility. The launch was scheduled for an hour-and-a-half debut flight to space.
Although an unpredicted explosion was not what SpaceX had planned, the act of getting the booster rocket off the ground in one piece for the first time represents a milestone for the company. Had the launch been fully successful, the Starship system would have been seen as the most powerful launch vehicle on Earth.
Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!
Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months. pic.twitter.com/gswdFut1dK
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 20, 2023
Both the Super Heavy booster and the upper-stage Starship vessel are reusable components, meaning they could fly back to earth for soft landings post-launch. Neither piece was recovered from the launch, with both crash landing at sea.
CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter (the platform the multi-billionaire also owns) to congratulate the SpaceX team on the launch. He also stated that he has “learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.”
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