Massive SpaceX Starship Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

Massive SpaceX Starship Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

SpaceX attempted to send its Starship system into space on Thursday, with the massive rocket exploding shortly after liftoff.

The mishap potentially complicates Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s goal to send humans back to the moon and to deep-space destinations including Mars. Thursday’s test was a crucial one for Starship, the largest rocket ever built, and meant to show that the vehicle could reach space and complete a partial orbit of Earth.

The explosion occurred just under four minutes after Starship lifted off from the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, early morning on Thursday. The rocket failed to separate from its Super Heavy booster, causing a “rapid unscheduled disassembly,” according to SpaceX.

The company hasn’t released more information about what caused the mishap. Shortly after the explosion, Musk tweeted that the next test launch would take place “in a few months.”

Starship was conceived to bring people — including NASA astronauts — and cargo such as satellites into Earth’s orbit and beyond. The rocket is more powerful than any previous crewed spacecraft and taller than the Saturn V, which took humans to the moon. The launch vehicle system also had been designed to be fully reusable, which SpaceX promises will reduce costs.

The company, formally Space Exploration Technologies Corp., suggested on the livestream that the attempt may still provide valuable information, and that simply blasting off could be considered a success. Musk had also sought to temper expectations earlier in the week.

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