On Thursday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched its Starship rocket for the first time. Despite the successful launch, it exploded just minutes after taking off in Texas.
The large rocket is the most powerful of its kind ever launched and reached an altitude of approximately 40km before it started to fall back to Earth before it eventually exploded.
No crew was onboard the test flight, which is considered a major milestone towards Musk’s goal of reaching Mars. "As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation," said SpaceX in a statement. "Today's test will help us improve Starship's reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multi-planetary."
Musk, who previously cautioned that the Starship flight test was not expected to complete all of its phases during the launch, was at the SpaceX control center on Thursday to oversee the flight test.“Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!” tweeted Musk after the launch. “Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.”
In comments provided to the Financial Times, former Nasa official Laura Forczyk described the launch as “a partial success” and “not a large setback.” Crucially, the rocket launched, and that’s considered “quite the accomplishment for a new rocket, particularly one as complex as Starship.” The launch was initially scheduled to go forward on Monday, but it was called off last-minute due to issues with the rocket’s main booster.
In addition to plans to allow travel to Mars, Starship has also been designed to carry cargo including satellites. Musk has indicated that another test launch could happen within the next few months.