Minutes after taking off on its first test flight on Thursday, SpaceX’s massive new rocket caught fire and plummeted into the Gulf of Mexico. Elon Musk’s business planned to launch the biggest and most potent rocket ever made from the southernmost point of Texas, close to the Mexican border. The 120-meter (almost 400-foot) long Starship was empty of passengers or satellites.
Later, SpaceX said that several of the 33-engine booster’s engines were not burning during the rocket’s ascent, which caused it to lose altitude and start to fall. The rocket’s self-destruct mechanism purposefully destroyed it, causing it to explode and crash into the lake.
The entire trip took place in four minutes as opposed to the best-case scenario’s 1 1/2 hours with the spaceship on top peeling out and making a round of the globe. Before veering off course and falling, the rocket traveled at a top speed of around 1,300 mph (2,100 kph) and as high as 24 miles (39 kilometers).
From South Padre Island, many miles distant from the Boca Chica Beach launch site, which was off-limits, large crowds of onlookers observed. The crowd shouted, “Go, baby, go!” as Starship blasted off with a thundering roar. It was “an exciting test launch of Starship,” Musk wrote in a tweet. A lot was learned for the upcoming test launch.” It was referred to by SpaceX as a “rapid unscheduled disassembly.”
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In the weeks before takeoff, Musk offered a 50/50 chance that the spaceship would enter orbit. He emphasized that a victory would come from clearing the launch tower and avoiding a pad explosion. Engineer John Insprucker, a commentator on the SpaceX livestream, remarked, “You never know exactly what’s going to happen.” However, excitement is certain, and Starship provided us with a fantastic ending, as we had promised.
Huge sand and dust plumes were released by the rocket as it took off, covering the launch pad. Particles blanketed automobiles and other surfaces in Port Isabel, which is six kilometers away and roughly ten miles away. According to John Sandoval, the city manager’s assistant, the only other report was of a broken window at a nearby store.
He admitted that the rocket had shaken, rattled, and rolled. Even though there were no reported casualties or damages to public property, the Federal Aviation Administration said that it will oversee the crash investigation. Additionally, the agency said that starships remain grounded until it is certain that there is no danger to the general population.
Starship will be used by SpaceX to transport passengers and freight to the moon and eventually Mars. Rich visitors are already making reservations for lunar flybys, and NASA has secured a Starship for its upcoming moonwalking team. Despite the brief flight, Bill Nelson, the director of NASA, and others in the space industry sent their greetings.
Chris Hadfield, a retired astronaut from Canada, wrote on Twitter: “Huge accomplishment, huge lessons, onwards to the next attempt.” “It fell somewhere between a small step and their hoped-for giant leap, but it still represents significant progress toward a reusable super-heavy lift rocket,” said space historian Jordan Bimm of the University of Chicago in an email.
With a height of 394 feet and a thrust of around 17 million pounds, Starship easily outperforms all NASA moon rockets, past, present, and future. Last November, NASA launched a test mission of its brand-new 322-foot (98-meter) moon rocket, sending an empty Orion spacecraft around the moon.
Similar to what SpaceX’s smaller Falcon rockets have accomplished as they have launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the stainless steel Starship rocket is intended to be reusable with quick turnaround, drastically cutting costs. Nothing could be salvaged from this test mission, with the spacecraft destined for a watery end in the Pacific Ocean close to Hawaii if all went according to plan.
During testing a few years ago, the future spacecraft sailed several miles into the air and only made one successful landing. However, this was the first time the 33 engines-powered first-stage boosters had been launched. For additional test flights, SpaceX has additional rockets and spacecraft planned; the following batch is almost complete.
Musk intends to launch them quickly one after the other so he can start utilizing Starships to put people on board satellites and send them into low-Earth orbit. It was the second launch attempt. A frozen booster valve caused Monday’s attempt to be abandoned. While driving from Corpus Christi to see the launch with their daughter, Jason, and Lisa Flores were suspicious.
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The moment Lisa Flores saw the liftoff, she stopped crying and said, “It’s not working out the way it was supposed to.” Elizabeth Trujillo, 13, skipped class to watch the launch from the beach with her mother and other family members while sporting a “Star Wars” shirt and clutching toy binoculars.
When Starship climbed the tower, the crowd cheered. Elizabeth’s mother, Jessica Trujillo, stated despite the failure, “it was worth it.” “It was priceless just hearing and seeing the view and the excitement of the crowd.” “Perfect comes with practice. Just more practice is required,” she continued.
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