SpaceX's Starship rocket exploded minutes after takeoff during its first test flight. Reportedly the most powerful rocket ever built, the spacecraft has been designed to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars.
The gigantic rocket successfully blasted off at 8:33 am Central Time (13:33 GMT) from Starbase, the private SpaceX spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas.
Elon Musk’s company had announced that the nearly 400-foot rocket’s mission involved reaching low earth orbit after which the spacecraft module would orbit the Earth once. Both booster and spacecraft were to be ditched into the sea at separate times.
Something went wrong with the scheduled first-stage separation three minutes into the flight and the rocket blew up a minute later.
“As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation,” SpaceX tweeted after the explosion.
“Teams will continue to review data and work toward our next flight testWith a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and today’s test will help us improve Starship’s reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multi-planetary. Congratulations to the entire SpaceX team on an exciting first integrated flight test of Starship!” itt added.
Throngs of spectators watched from South Padre Island, several miles away from the Boca Chica Beach launch site, which was off limits. Space’s first try to launch the rocket was called off Monday because of a stuck valve in the rocket during fueling.
Starship is SpaceX's version of a next-generation launch system designed to take humans, cargo, and payloads to Earth orbit, the moon, and Mars.
The vehicle comes in two parts: Super Heavy, a massive booster outfitted with 33 Raptor engines that will lift Starship, a 164-foot-tall spacecraft that can transport humans and cargo beyond low-Earth orbit. It produces more thrust than the Saturn V rocket of the Apollo era and NASA's current Space Launch System.
To date, SpaceX is estimated to have spent at least several billion dollars on the Starship programme, including a USD 2.9 billion grant from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) specifically for Starship, which is envisioned as the lunar lander for the agency's Artemis programme.