SpaceX’s Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, took off on Thursday and successfully flew for more than two minutes before exploding midair. The rocket launch in South Texas at 9:33 a.m. marked the vehicle’s first test flight.
“As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation,” SpaceX tweeted.
The Super Heavy rocket booster houses 33 engines and was scheduled to expend most of its fuel above the Gulf of Mexico and separate from the Starship spacecraft leaving the booster to be discarded in the ocean.
The Starship was meant to use its own engines, blazing for more than six minutes, to propel itself to nearly orbital speeds, CNN reports. The flight reached its highest point 24.2 (39 kilometers) above the ground, and the explosion occurred about four minutes after liftoff, according to SpaceX.
SpaceX has said the team will “continue to review data and work toward our next flight test.” The road and beach near the launchpad will remain closed until Friday.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated that there were no reports of injuries or property damage, and they will “oversee the mishap investigation of the Starship/Super Heavy test mission.”
“An anomaly occurred during the ascent and prior to stage separation resulting in a loss of the vehicle,” in the FAA’s statement.
A return flight of the Starship/Super Heavy vehicle will relaunch as long as the system, process, or procedure related to the mishap doesn’t affect public safety.
Clearing the launchpad was a milestone on its own. SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, monitored the launch from the control center in Boca Chica, Texas. Musk congratulated the team members for an “exciting test launch” and said they “learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.”
SpaceX plans to use Starship to send people and cargo to the moon and Mars. The test flight on Thursday was not carrying people or satellites.
NASA has reserved Starship for its next moonwalking team, which could come as early as 2025.