SpaceX Launch Ends With Explosion

SpaceX Launch Ends With Explosion

( – In April 2021, NASA contracted with SpaceX to develop the first commercial lunar lander for humans as part of the government’s Artemis program. In late 2022, the space agency modified the contract to cover the requirements for long-term exploration of the moon by humans for an additional $1.15 billion. Unfortunately, the company recently lost a prototype of its next-generation spacecraft when it exploded minutes after liftoff.

On April 20, SpaceX launched the first test flight of its fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket system from a launchpad at the southern tip of Texas near Brownsville.

A live webcast showed the ship slowly rising from the launch pad with billows of smoke and orange flames lighting up the morning sky. However, less than four minutes into the flight, the lower-stage Super Heavy rocket failed to separate from the upper-stage Starship. Instead, the integrated system started falling back toward Earth, appearing to rotate around an invisible axis.

The spacecraft had reached a height of slightly more than 24 miles and a maximum velocity of roughly 1,400 mph when it began its spiraling descent. Once it reached an altitude of about 18 miles, its automatic self-destruct system triggered explosives loaded into both of the rocket’s stages.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk had already downplayed expectations a few days before the flight, telling a group of Twitter Spaces subscribers he would consider the mission a success if the rocket made it far enough from the launch pad to avoid damaging it “before something [went] wrong.”

NASA administrator and former Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) congratulated the company, noting that “every great achievement” requires a “level of calculated risk.”

Likewise, Musk applauded his team for its “exciting test launch. He also noted that the company “learned a lot” of useful information for its next test launch without specifying the exact lessons they learned.

SpaceX echoed that sentiment in a four-part tweet, noting that “success comes from what we learn,” adding the test will help the company improve the Starship’s “reliability” as it continues its goal to achieve multi-planetary life.

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