SpaceX’s second Starship flight test ends in an explosion minutes after launch

SpaceX’s massive Starship rocket just lifted off shortly after 8 a.m. ET from the company’s Starbase launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

Minutes after launch and a planned “hot stage” separation, the Super Heavy booster exploded instead of continuing its planned descent and splashdown, but Starship itself continued into space. Minutes later, the SpaceX team said they had not received any signals from Starship and may have lost the ship. The New York Times wrote that the upper stage allowed him to reach a height of 90 miles, placing him in space before his loss.

SpaceX confirmed in a post-launch article, “the booster underwent a rapid and unplanned disassembly” after separation, but made no comment on Starship itself except to say that its “engines fired for several minutes while he was heading towards space.”

You can see the booster explosion in the video above Since NASA Space Flightthe YouTube channel.

At this point in its flight, the craft was probably no longer within range of ground stations, but it appears that the craft’s end-of-flight system activated shortly after its engines shut down. Raptor.

Reaching space was part of the goal of this flight test, with SpaceX hoping to have Starship briefly orbit Earth and crash land near Hawaii. Lisa Watson-Morgan, who leads NASA’s Human Landing System program, said Ars Technica in an interview released yesterday that whether or not the launch succeeds in that goal, it would still be “a big learning event,” giving SpaceX and NASA more information to continue iterating on Starship’s systems for future testing .

This is the second attempt to launch the 397-foot-tall rocket, which uses a two-stage system that floats away a few minutes after launch, with the booster intended to come back down.

Although the Starship launch was originally scheduled to take place on November 17, SpaceX pushed the flight back to replace a gate vane actuatora component that helps guide the Super Heavy booster to its destination.

This launch test made it possible to go much further than the previous attempt. Starship’s first test flight in April ended in failure. The rocket caught fire shortly after launch and fired detonators to self-destruct. SpaceX blamed the failure on a propellant leak from the Super Heavy booster, saying it “broke the connection to the vehicle’s primary flight computer.” The company could not proceed with another launch until it resolved the issue. The Federal Aviation Administration’s 63 corrective actions.

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