Elon Musk's grand vision of SpaceX suffered a major setback on November 18, 2023, when the Starship mega rocket, the largest and most powerful spacecraft ever built by humanity, exploded mid-flight during a test launch. Just eight minutes after liftoff from the company's Texas launch pad, the booster carrying the spacecraft into orbit lost contact, culminating in an unexpected explosion, SpaceX has confirmed.
Hawthorne, California: Elon Musk’s grand vision of SpaceX suffered a major setback on November 18, 2023, when the Starship mega rocket, the largest and most powerful spacecraft ever built by humanity, exploded mid-flight during a test launch. Just eight minutes after liftoff from the company’s Texas launch pad, the booster carrying the spacecraft into orbit lost contact, culminating in an unexpected explosion, SpaceX has confirmed.
The two-stage giant rocketship lifted off from the Elon Musk-owned company’s Starbase launch site near Boca Chica in Texas, seven months after the first try ended in an explosion, boosting the Starship spacecraft roughly 55 miles (90 km) above ground on a planned 90-minte flight into space. The first test flight in April ended in an explosion soon after liftoff.
During a live broadcast on a social media platform, SpaceX engineer John Inspruker informed the billionaire entrepreneur that his data was lost. It was suggested that the rocket may have self-destructed as a safety precaution, possibly due to the automatic flight termination system. The incident was reminiscent of a previous test flight in April, which ended in an explosion four minutes after launch.
The aim of the test flight was to separate the spaceship from its booster and send it into space, marking another attempt by SpaceX to reach space with the Starship rocket. The implications of success will be significant, paving the way for future space exploration efforts. Standing at 121 meters tall, the Starship rocket is touted as a potential game-changer for space travel, capable of carrying large payloads and potentially human settlers to extraterrestrial destinations.
Starship is the biggest, heaviest and most powerful rocket ever built. Its maiden flight in April lasted four minutes, with the fragments crashing into the gulf. Since then, Elon Musk’s company has made dozens of improvements to the booster and its 33 engines as well as the launch pad. SpaceX plans to conduct a series of test flights of the Starship Super Heavy rocket before using it to transport humans to space. The company plans to launch its first crewed mission to the Moon after 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s.
The explosion and loss of the Starship mega rocket is a significant blow to SpaceX’s ambitious space exploration plans. The incident could potentially significantly delay the development of Starship and its key missions, including NASA’s Artemis III mission. The accident highlights the inherent risks and complexities of space travel and the challenges companies like SpaceX face in pushing the boundaries of human achievement.