SpaceX’s giant new Starship rocket exploded just minutes after its Thursday launch and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. It carried no crew or satellites.
SpaceX CEO Elon said the company “learned a lot” from Thursday’s Starship launch. The rocket was set to go around the world, starting from the Starbase launch site at the southern tip of Texas.
As part of the launch, the booster was supposed to separate from the spacecraft, but that didn’t happen. The rocket tumbled and then exploded four minutes into the flight, according to the Associated Press.
“You never know exactly what’s going to happen,” said SpaceX livestream commentator and engineer John Insprucker. “But as we promised, excitement is guaranteed, and Starship gave us a rather spectacular end.”
SpaceX’s Twitter account said the rocket experienced a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” prior to its explosion.
This was the second launch attempt for the integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket. The first launch, scheduled for Monday, was scrapped due to an issue related to the stage 1 rocket. Musk, who is simultaneously running Tesla
and Twitter, said at the time that a pressurant valve appeared to have frozen.
This launch was highly anticipated. The rocket, at nearly 400 feet long, was the largest rocket ever built and was designed to play a significant role in bringing humans back to the moon and potentially in future Mars exploration.
SpaceX’s entire Starship program — not just the rocket from Thursday’s launch — will cost the company about $5 billion, according to CNBC.
As Barron’s Al Root notes, the rocket’s explosion doesn’t mean the launch was a failure, as things often don’t go as planned on the first attempt.