Elon Musk's Starship, world's biggest rocket, explodes during test flight. Watch - Hindustan Times
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SpaceX's Starship, world's biggest rocket, explodes minutes after launch. Watch

AFP | | Posted by Ritu Maria Johny
Apr 20, 2023 08:48 PM IST

The Starship capsule had been scheduled to separate from the first-stage rocket booster three minutes into the flight but separation failed to occur.

Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, exploded during its first flight on Thursday, but Elon Musk congratulated his SpaceX team on an "exciting" test of the spacecraft designed to send astronauts to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

SpaceX's next-generation Starship spacecraft atop its powerful Super Heavy rocket lifts off from the company's Boca Chica launchpad on a brief uncrewed test flight near Brownsville, Texas,(via REUTERS)
SpaceX's next-generation Starship spacecraft atop its powerful Super Heavy rocket lifts off from the company's Boca Chica launchpad on a brief uncrewed test flight near Brownsville, Texas,(via REUTERS)

The uncrewed rocket disintegrated minutes after successfully blasting off at 8:33 am Central Time (1333 GMT) from Starbase, the SpaceX spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas.

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The Starship spacecraft that will eventually carry crew and cargo had been scheduled to separate from the first-stage rocket booster three minutes into the flight, but separation failed to occur and the rocket blew up in a ball of fire over the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite the failure to complete the full 90-minute flight test and reach orbit, SpaceX and Musk, the founder and CEO of the private space company, declared it a success.

"Congrats SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!" Musk tweeted. "Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months."

SpaceX said that "with a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and today's test will help us improve Starship's reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multi-planetary."

"We cleared the tower which was our only hope," said Kate Tice, a SpaceX quality systems engineer.

Read: Why Elon Musk's Starship, world's biggest rocket, failed to take off in first flight

The US space agency NASA has picked the Starship spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the Moon in late 2025 -- a mission known as Artemis III -- for the first time since the Apollo program ended in 1972.

NASA chief Bill Nelson congratulated SpaceX, saying "every great achievement throughout history has demanded some level of calculated risk, because with great risk comes great reward."

Starship consists of a 164-foot (50-meter) tall spacecraft designed to carry crew and cargo that sits atop a 230-foot tall first-stage Super Heavy booster rocket.

SpaceX conducted a successful test-firing of the 33 massive Raptor engines on the first-stage booster in February but the Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket were being flown together for the first time.

The integrated test flight was intended to assess their performance in combination.

Musk had warned ahead of the test that technical issues were likely and sought to play down expectations for the inaugural flight.

"It's the first launch of a very complicated, gigantic rocket. There's a million ways this rocket could fail," he said.

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