Images showed multiple engines weren’t working on the 33-engine rocket as it climbed from the launch pad, reaching as high as 39km. The flight plan had called for the booster to peel away fromthe spacecraft minutes after liftoff, but that didn’t happen. It began to tumble and then exploded four minutes into the flight, plummeting into the gulf. After separating, the spacecraft was supposed to continue east and attempt to circle the world, before crashing into the Pacific near Hawaii.
Nevertheless, SpaceX officials on the webcast cheered the feat of getting the fully integrated Starship and booster rocket off the ground for a clean launch and delared the brief episode a successful test flight. Spectators watched from South Padre Island, miles away from the Boca Chica Beach launch site, which was off limits. As it lifted off, the crowd screamed: “Go, baby, go!” Musk tweeted: “An exciting test launch of Starship! Learned a lot for next test launch in afew months.”
A setback for Musk, but not a total failure
SpaceX’s Starship rocket failed to reach orbit, but it was not a total failure for the private spaceflight company. Before the launch, Elon Muskhad tamped down expectations, saying it might take several tries before Starship succeeds at this test flight.But the launch achieved a number of milestones, with the rocket flying for four minutes and getting well clear of the launchpad before it started to tumble. The brief flight produced reams of data for engineers to understand how the vehicle performed. “If we get any information that allows us to improve the design of upcoming builds of Starship, then it is a success,” Musk said on Sunday.“It is purely, purely learning.” The Starship launch at least avoided a worst-case outcome of exploding on the launchpad, which would have required extensive repairs.
Watch Watch: World’s largest spaceship Starship explodes during test flight