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Elon Musk's Starship explodes 4 minutes after orbital test launch

By T.K. Randall
April 20, 2023 · Comment icon 47 comments

Things didn't go quite as well as some had hoped. Image Credit: SpaceX
The impressive spacecraft exploded due to a malfunction just minutes after launching earlier today.
What was an otherwise impressive demonstration of Elon Musk's next-generation spacecraft ended up tinged in failure today when the Starship rocket system - the largest and most powerful ever built - failed to reach orbit after the booster was unable to separate mid-flight.

While SpaceX had previously stated that the mission's chance of success was low and that the purpose of the launch was to gather as much data as possible, it will still disappointing to see such an impressive space vehicle end up crashing back to Earth.

"As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation," the firm wrote in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek Twitter post.
Elon Musk also hailed the launch by adding that it had provided lots of data that SpaceX would be able to use to improve the odds of success during the next test flight.

Measuring 50 meters long, weighing in at 120 tons and equipped with six engines - three fixed and three movable - Starship is nothing if not ambitious.

Designed to carry cargo and astronauts all the way to Mars, this next-generation spacecraft is the real deal and could see the first humans set foot on the Red Planet in the not-too-distant future.

Source: Guardian | Comments (47)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #38 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 year ago
Falcon Heavy is not crew rated so they can't use that.
Comment icon #39 Posted by Jon the frog 1 year ago
Starship either...
Comment icon #40 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 year ago
SpaceX have designed Starship to be crew rated, in fact it is designed to take a human crew to Mars. Falcon Heavy was originally intended to be crew rated but SpaceX decided against that option more than 5 years ago. SpaceX no longer planning crewed missions on Falcon Heavy:  
Comment icon #41 Posted by OverSword 1 year ago
Bizarre all the cheering after it explodes.
Comment icon #42 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 year ago
I think they were cheering how far it got rather than the explosion itself. Most experts, even those within SpaceX, expected a far earlier failure. Super Heavy made it to the end of its launch burn before failing... that's what they were cheering. It far exceeded expectations. 
Comment icon #43 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 year ago
A couple of different views of the lift off:          
Comment icon #44 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 year ago
Another view:    
Comment icon #45 Posted by Still Waters 12 months ago
Giant SpaceX rocket leaves crater, serious damage at Texas base Flying chunks of concrete, twisted metal sheets, craters blasted deep into the ground: the thunderous power of SpaceX's first test flight of Starship—the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built—inflicted serious damage on its Texas launch site. Repairing the damage from Thursday's unmanned test flight is expected to take months, potentially delaying further launch attempts and slowing the development of a rocket NASA plans to use on its upcoming Moon missions. A few days later, the scene around the launch pad is one of des... [More]
Comment icon #46 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 12 months ago
Here is a Twitter exchange on that subject between Eric Berger (Senior Space Editor at Ars Technica) and Elon Musk. I would issue the warning that Elon Musk is notoriously over optimistic with his time estimates, however it does seem that there is already a potential solution in the pipeline for this issue.    
Comment icon #47 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 12 months ago
The damage at the launch site is considerable, especially to the Orbital Launch Mount (OLM) which is the concrete structure that the rocket sits on up until the launch. Several "Starbase watchers" have tweeted images of the damage, RGV Aerial Photography have some of the best:  

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