NEW YORK: In a setback for SpaceX’s Starship program, an uncrewed test flight of the spacecraft, designed for lunar missions and beyond, encountered failure minutes after reaching space. The launch, SpaceX’s second attempt to propel Starship mounted on its Super Heavy rocket booster, took place at the Starbase launch site near Boca Chica, Texas.
The two-stage rocket successfully lifted off, soaring approximately 55 miles above ground on a planned 90-minute flight. However, complications arose as the Super Heavy first stage booster, after appearing to separate from its core stage, exploded over the Gulf of Mexico. Subsequently, contact with the core Starship booster was lost approximately 10 minutes into the flight.
SpaceX’s livestream host, John Insprucker, conveyed the loss of data from the second stage, stating, “We think we may have lost the second stage.”
Starship Test Flight
This test flight was crucial for advancing SpaceX’s goal of developing a versatile spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts and cargo to destinations like the moon and Mars. The company envisions Starship eventually replacing the Falcon 9 rocket as the linchpin of its launch operations.
Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive, views Starship as integral to NASA’s Artemis program, the successor to the historic Apollo missions. NASA, a primary customer of SpaceX, relies on Starship to play a pivotal role in future human spaceflight endeavors.
The test aimed to propel Starship into space, just shy of Earth’s orbit, and then navigate a descent through Earth’s atmosphere for a splashdown off Hawaii’s coast. The setback follows an April attempt that ended in failure about four minutes after liftoff, with malfunctioning Raptor engines and a failure to separate the booster rocket stages.