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SpaceX’s Starship Lifts Off And Explodes In Space

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had warned a 50/50 chance that it might happen.

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Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

author

Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

Alfredo (he/him) has a PhD in Astrophysics on galaxy evolution and a Master's in Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces.

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

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Starship on the beach

Starship before the launch. Image Credit: SpaceX (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The inaugural flight of SpaceX's Starship can be considered a partial success that ended in an unscheduled rapid disassembly. That means it went kaboom. Unfortunately, it exploded about three minutes into the flight after it failed to separate from its Super Heavy booster.

The launch, the first orbital test for the system, was stopped for a few minutes at t minus 40 seconds due to some pressure anomalies. It was allowed to continue and the launch took place with no major issues, although some fragments were visible coming off the booster before reaching max q, the point in a rocket trajectory where it is experiencing maximum dynamic pressures. 

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The rocket is the tallest and most powerful launch vehicle ever built and the first one to be designed to be fully reusable. The Super Heavy booster would separate and come back to Earth, and that would be followed at a later time by Starship. However, the separation did not take place, and the entire system was seen spinning until it came apart. You can see the final moments in the video below.

A lot is riding on Starship, beyond SpaceX and Musk’s personal plans. Starship is an integral part of the Artemis Program. Since it is capable of being refueled in orbit, Starship will be used as the craft that will take astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon. Musk has stated that there is an 80 percent chance of a successful Starship launch this year. 


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spaceSpace and Physics
  • tag
  • SpaceX,

  • rockets,

  • starship

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