SpaceX had high hopes for its second trial of the Starship spacecraft, aiming to use it for missions to the moon and Mars. But things took a fiery turn on Saturday during liftoff from Boca Chica, Texas. The Starship soared atop the Super Heavy rocket, the biggest rocket ever, but ended up in an explosion.
Just as the Super Heavy booster separated from the Starship, the first stage of the rocket blew up. Surprisingly, Starship kept going for a few more minutes, exceeding the flight duration of its earlier version. However, a faint explosion appeared on the live feed around the 8-minute mark, and the hosts later confirmed they lost contact with the spacecraft.
A Brief Space Sojourn
Unlike the first test, which ended 24 miles above Earth, this time, Starship managed to reach space before its dramatic explosion. When it blew up, the tracker clocked it at around 92 miles above ground.
New Technique: Hot Staging
Elon Musk. This flight was SpaceX’s first shot at “hot staging,” a new way of separating the spacecraft. They fired up Starship’s engines before detaching it from the still-firing first stage. It did manage the move before the Super Heavy blew, leaving Starship at a safe distance. Now, SpaceX needs to tweak the booster to handle such hot-staging moves better in the future.
Success Despite Explosions
Even though it ended in a double explosion, SpaceX is spinning it positively, just like the previous test that also exploded. Kate Tice, one of the livestream hosts and a quality engineering manager at SpaceX, called it a “successful day.” She mentioned they gathered loads of valuable data that will help improve for the next flight, despite the unplanned disassembly of both the Super Heavy booster and the ship.
Wrapping Up the Fiery Flight
SpaceX’s ambitions soared high, but the Starship’s double explosion put a fiery end to this trial run. Despite the explosions, the team sees it as a day packed with useful insights for future missions. They’re taking the setbacks in their stride, aiming to learn and grow for their upcoming endeavors in space exploration.