SpaceX rocket explodes minutes after launch


SpaceX has launched its Starship rocket system, the biggest and most powerful ever made, for the first time in a landmark test.

Three days after an inaugural flight was scrapped due to a last-minute glitch, it blasted off from Boca Chica in southern Texas as thousands of spectators watched on nearby.

Starship is made up of two stages – a Super Heavy booster that generates the needed power to reach orbit, and the spacecraft tipped to one day take humans back to the moon and eventually Mars.

Combined, the craft and booster – which has 33 rocket engines – have a record-setting height of 120m.

Thursday’s take-off, the first orbital test of Starship, came two months after Super Heavy enjoyed a successful stationary launch test, generating enough power to reach orbit.

SpaceX workers are shown next to the company's Starship near their Boca Chica launchpad before launch on an orbital test mission, near Brownsville, Texas, U.S. April 19, 2023. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Engineers working on Starship ahead of launch

Upon reaching orbit on Thursday, Starship will be deployed while the booster – on this occasion a prototype called Booster 7 – is discarded into the Gulf of Mexico.

Starship will complete a full orbit of the Earth and splash down into the Pacific after re-entering the atmosphere.

The whole flight would take about 90 minutes.

While SpaceX is best known for transporting its Starlink satellites, there is no cargo aboard Starship this time.

There are also no humans on board, and no landings will be attempted.

Spectators watch the SpaceX Starship on its Boca Chica launchpad following a postponement in its launch date due to a frozen valve, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration granted a long-awaited license allowing Elon Musk's SpaceX to launch the rocket to orbit for the first time, near Brownsville, Texas, U.S. April 18, 2023. REUTERS/Go Nakamura TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A person poses for a photo near the SpaceX Starship on its Boca Chica launchpad following a postponement in its launch date due to a frozen valve
The first launch attempt was postponed due to a frozen valve

Company boss Elon Musk hopes that Starship will be used to take humans to Mars in future, and NASA has already signed up to use it to take humans back to the moon via its Artemis programme by 2025.

Musk set low expectations for the inaugural launch, but said the firm “learned a lot” from the failed first attempt.

Starship’s first orbital test comes after the US flight regulator issued SpaceX with a five-year licence, saying it met all safety and environmental requirements.

Articles You May Like

Elon Musk says his days are ‘long and complicated’ splitting time between SpaceX, Tesla and Twitter
Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy reach ‘agreement in principle’ on raising US debt ceiling
Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris’s cause of death announced
Investigation into home secretary’s handling of speeding offence ‘not necessary’
Kohberger makes unusual move in court