SpaceX’s giant Starship transport system has taken off for its first unmanned test flight.
However, it exploded in mid-air shortly after the launch vehicle was about to separate.
SpaceX said on Twitter that the system had experienced a “rapid unplanned deployment” and that engineers would now evaluate the data in an attempt to schedule another test.
According to Reuters, the company is talking about success as the Super Heavy launch vehicle and the Starship spacecraft have taken off together for the first time.
While the first attempt to start was called off at the last minute on Monday due to a problem with fueling, today’s second attempt saw the full-scale countdown come to an end, albeit with a short break. The 120-meter-long system, which was the largest of its kind, then took off from the spaceport in the south of the US state of Texas. The problem occurred after about three minutes, when its main stage was supposed to separate.
“The rocket spun and then boom, it was gone,” a BBC news reporter described the event. The test flight, which was supposed to last about 90 minutes, ended after approximately four minutes. The cheering of employees could still be heard on SpaceX’s live broadcast.
“Starship experienced a rapid unplanned deployment prior to separation of stages,” the American firm said on Twitter. “In a trial of this kind, success comes from what we learn, and today’s test will help us improve confidence,” she added.
Starship is envisioned as a reusable system that could take humans to the moon and also to Mars in the future. During the test flight, the second stage was supposed to circle almost the entire Earth and land in the Pacific Ocean north of the Hawaiian Islands. SpaceX founder Elon Musk previously said he would consider success “anything that doesn’t destroy the launch pad.”
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