SpaceX experienced a setback as it launched its mega rocket, Starship, which resulted in the loss of both the booster and the spacecraft during a test flight. The rocket was able to reach space after liftoff from South Texas, but communication was suddenly lost. It was later revealed that the ship’s self-destruct system caused it to explode over the Gulf of Mexico. Prior to that, the separated booster had also exploded over the gulf.
The test flight lasted around eight minutes, double the duration of the first test in April, which also ended in an explosion. Despite the failure, SpaceX commentator John Insprucker highlighted the successful liftoff and noted that all 33 booster engines fired as intended. The booster also successfully separated from the spaceship, which reached an altitude of 92 miles.
At a height of nearly 400 feet, Starship is currently the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. Its primary goal is to ferry people to the moon and Mars in the future. Although the test flight did not meet the desired altitude of 150 miles, SpaceX has made numerous improvements to the rocket and launch pad since the previous demo in April. The Federal Aviation Administration has cleared the rocket for flight after ensuring all safety and environmental concerns were addressed.
Regarding the loss of the booster and spacecraft, the FAA stated that no injuries or public damage occurred and an investigation is underway. SpaceX will not be able to launch another Starship until the review is completed and necessary corrections are made.
NASA has high hopes for Starship and aims to use it to land astronauts on the moon by 2025. SpaceX has been awarded a $3 billion contract by NASA to facilitate this mission. The successful development of Starship would allow for the transportation of equipment and personnel to not only the moon but also Mars, once proven reliable.
SpaceX’s founder Elon Musk witnessed the launch from Texas, while employees at the company’s headquarters in California celebrated the liftoff. However, the atmosphere turned somber when it became evident that the spacecraft had been destroyed during the test flight.