SpaceX Starship Explodes 4 Minutes After Launch [Updated]

20th Apr 2023
SpaceX Starship Explodes 4 Minutes After Launch [Updated]

SpaceX conducted its first Starship rocket test flight on Thursday. The most powerful rocket ever built got off the launchpad in South Texas, but did not achieve its most ambitious goals.

This flight was the first step in future deep space exploration attempts and provided the means to colonise the Moon – as well as Mars – by delivering the people and equipment needed to make that possible.  

UPDATED: 20th April

SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded above the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, minutes after lifting off from a launchpad in South Texas. The spacecraft failed to reach orbit, but it was not a fatal failure.

The vehicle experienced multiple engines out during the flight test, lost altitude, and began to tumble. The flight termination system was commanded on both the booster and ship. 

“As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation,” the company tweeted.

Before the launch, Elon Musk, the company’s founder, had tamped down expectations, saying it might take several tries before Starship succeeds at this test flight, which was to reach speeds fast enough to enter orbit before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

Not all of the Raptor engines appeared to be firing at launch. The rocketship appeared to clear the tower at more of an angle and a little more slowly than observers had anticipated.

When Will the Starship Take Flight?

Excitement is brewing as the first orbital test flight is nearing, and if this mission succeeds, we’re one step closer to more advanced missions to other parts of deep space. The test flight is poised for a launch date of 17th April – according to the SpaceX website – depending on pending regulatory approval. Once that approval is granted it’s all systems go!

As of 18th April, we know that SpaceX has cancelled today’s launch attempt as well due to a fueling issue. Now, according to the company’s official website, Starship is scheduled to launch on Thursday, 20th April, at 08:45 am CDT (14:45 GMT).

SpaceX – and in particular, Elon Musk – have said on their website that the mission is ready and is “trending towards the third week of April.” To understand how the test flight will transpire, here is a graphic of the flight plan that will give you a clear idea of the Starship’s flight path and Earth re-entry point.

How to Watch the Launch?

If you’re looking for ways to watch the launch, here are a couple of official sources from SpaceX:

SpaceX has recently Tweeted that the: “Starship [is] fully stacked at Starbase. [The] team is working towards a launch rehearsal next week followed by [the] Starship’s first integrated flight test… pending regulatory approval.”

There are many reasons why this feat of human engineering is so pioneering – and we’ll explain all of this in a moment – but we’re also here to tell you everything you need to know about the launch and how to get amongst this historic test flight.

The ground-breaking spacecraft: SpaceX Starship

The Starship is a super heavy spacecraft designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, or even Mars and beyond. According to SpaceX, the rocket has the capability of carrying 100 passengers on long-duration, interplanetary flights, in addition to aiding with satellite delivery and couriering the equipment needed for a Moon or Mars base. Due to its weight, the spacecraft is also paired with a large booster called the ‘super heavy’ which will propel the Starship off the Earth’s surface. 

SpaceX Starship launch
Credit: SpaceX

Innovation is a subject that SpaceX strives to make an intrinsic part of their brand, and they have followed suit by developing a spacecraft that’s never been seen before. There are many reasons why this spacecraft deserves our attention: it’s a fully reusable transportation system that can carry 150 metric tonnes and 250 metric tonnes as well for its expenditure. It’s also designed to be the tallest and most powerful launch vehicle in the spaceship arsenal – something that is hard to rival.

 Why Is the Starship so Historic?

When we look at past missions, the only rocket to rivals the Starship was when NASA created the most powerful rocket in history for the time, the Saturn V, sixty years ago. This rocket helped the US win the space race and put a man on the Moon. However, as times change and our yearning for further exploration becomes more advanced, we need a rocket to match that enthusiasm and have the ability to deliver everything we need to set up bases and outposts on distant planets.

It’s no secret that Elon Musk is searching for ways to create a base in deep space, as well as his collaborative mission with other space agencies to put people on Mars. And with the Starship’s ability to carry heavy payloads – in addition to being completely reusable – we are one step closer to accomplishing that mission. So, SpaceX has been working hard to achieve this collective dream, and when we look at what the Starship is poised to achieve, we can certainly state: this initial test flight is most certainly historic.

Credit: Business Insider

The jaw-dropping simulation of the Starship trip to Mars

To keep the excitement flowing while we wait for the test flight, SpaceX recently uploaded a video to YouTube of a simulated Starship flight to Mars, in an animation that captures the belief and ambition of the mission. This definitely highlights how this dream will soon become a reality!

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