SpaceX’s massive Starship rocket explodes after launch during maiden flight

LOS ANGELES: SpaceX’s giant Starship rocket, the most powerful ever built, exploded after liftoff from the US state of Texas during an inaugural test flight on Thursday morning.

The rocket got off the launch pad in SpaceX’s Starbase in Boca Chica, South Texas, but exploded minutes later. The spacecraft failed to reach orbit, reported Xinhua.

The uncrewed spacecraft was scheduled to have a 90-minute trip around the Earth before a splashdown near Hawaii.

Starship was fully loaded with more than 4500 metric tons (10 million pounds) of propellant before the launch, according to SpaceX.

The launch was the first test flight of SpaceX’s fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket.

Starship experienced a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” before stage separation, according to SpaceX.

“Today’s test will help us improve Starship’s reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multi-planetary,“ the company tweeted.

Teams will continue to review data and work toward the next flight test, said SpaceX.

“Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months,“ Elon Musk, founder, CEO and chief engineer of SpaceX, said on Twitter. He monitored the launch from the SpaceX control centre in Boca Chica.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that the launch of SpaceX’s Starship rocket is “a good first step.”

“It looks like they got through the first stage of this big monster rocket. That’s a real accomplishment. We’ll get a report on what happened to the second stage, but I’m very encouraged that they’ve gotten along this far,“ Nelson told CNN.

It was the second launch attempt of Starship after the first attempt was scrapped on Monday due to technical issues.

SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket, collectively referred to as Starship, represent a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, capable of carrying up to 150 metric tonnes fully reusable and 250 metric tonnes, according to SpaceX.

To date, the SpaceX team has completed multiple sub-orbital flight tests of Starship’s upper stage from Starbase, and also conducted numerous tests of the Super Heavy rocket, which include the increasingly complex static fires that led to a full-duration 31 Raptor engine test, according to SpaceX.

NASA awarded SpaceX contracts worth several billions of US dollars to use Starship to ferry American astronauts to the surface of the moon under the space agency’s Artemis programme.

NASA has announced plans to use a Starship to put astronauts on the lunar surface in 2025. –Bernama