It is believed that the second launch of the SpaceX Starship was unsuccessful shortly after it reached space.
SpaceX’s unmanned Starship spacecraft, designed for transporting astronauts to the moon and beyond, was believed to have experienced a malfunction in space just minutes after takeoff on Saturday. This was the second test for the spacecraft after its initial attempt resulted in an explosion.
The spaceship, owned by Elon Musk’s company, launched in two stages from the Starbase launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. It flew approximately 90 kilometers (55 miles) above the ground on a scheduled 90-minute flight into outer space.
However, the Super Heavy first stage booster of the rocket exploded over the Gulf of Mexico shortly after successfully separating from its core stage, despite appearing to have completed a vital maneuver.
During the journey, the primary Starship booster continued on its path towards space. However, approximately 10 minutes into the flight, a SpaceX spokesperson announced that mission control had unexpectedly lost communication with the vehicle.
“We have experienced a loss of data from the second stage. … It appears that we may have lost the second stage,” stated John Insprucker, SpaceX’s host for the livestream.
This was the second try at launching the Starship with the Super Heavy rocket booster, after a previous attempt in April that was unsuccessful four minutes after takeoff.
The live broadcast from SpaceX on Saturday displayed the rocket ship ascending from the launch tower and into the early morning sky, with the Super Heavy’s group of formidable Raptor engines roaring to life.
The main goal of the test flight was to successfully launch the Starship into space, reaching a point just below Earth’s orbit. This achievement would be a significant step towards SpaceX’s ultimate goal of creating a versatile spacecraft that can transport both people and cargo to the moon for NASA in the near future, and eventually to Mars.
Elon Musk, the founder, CEO, and chief engineer of SpaceX, envisions Starship as the future replacement for the company’s primary Falcon 9 rocket. This rocket is currently responsible for launching the majority of satellites and other commercial payloads into space.
NASA, the main client of SpaceX, has a significant interest in the triumph of Starship. The U.S. space agency is relying on Starship to have a crucial role in its human space travel initiative, Artemis. This program follows in the footsteps of the Apollo missions from over 50 years ago, which successfully landed astronauts on the moon for the very first time.
The goal of the mission was to launch Starship from Texas and into space, narrowly missing orbit, before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere and landing in the ocean near Hawaii. The launch was originally planned for Friday but was delayed by one day due to a last-minute change in flight-control equipment.
In its test flight on April 20, the spacecraft exploded after less than four minutes of a planned 90-minute flight. The flight encountered problems from the beginning. SpaceX has confirmed that several of the 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy malfunctioned during ascent. Additionally, the lower-stage booster rocket did not separate as intended from the upper-stage Starship before the flight was ended.