June 7, 2023

SpaceX Starship Explodes Right After Launch


In the ongoing mess that is Elon Musk‘s ownership of Twitter, you might have forgotten about his other passion project – space. Based at his Texas complex, SpaceX has given a new lease on life to the American space program. Numerous missions over the last decade or so have not only pushed forwards America’s space agenda but made Musk a vital figure in the industry.

Starship is one of the latest projects to get national attention. Designated as a “super heavy-lift launch vehicle”, it was pitched as the next advancement in low-orbit payload delivery. At 390ft tall, it is the largest launch vehicle ever developed. Furthermore, it had the added advantage of being the first reusable launch vehicle. After years of development, SpaceX announced that Starship would make its first orbital launch this month. The plan was for the vehicle to launch, achieve a low Earth orbit, make a close to a full rotation of the Earth, and then crash off the coast of Hawaii.

Starship Launch Ends After Four Minutes

After adverse conditions scrapped the planned launch on April 17, April 20 was cleared as the new launch date. However, while the initial 7:28am EDT launch was successful, celebrations at Starbase were short-lived. A little over a minute into the flight, six of Starship’s engines had failed. Then Starship failed to separate, causing the trajectory to dramatically change and the vehicle to begin spinning. SpaceX executed Starship’s onboard flight termination just under four minutes after launch. For reference, the flight was meant to be last approximately 1 hour, 17 minutes.

While a SpaceX spokesperson jokingly referred to the event as “a rapid, unscheduled disassembly,” it is a humiliating and public failure for SpaceX. This was not an early-stage test, this was meant to be proof that Starship could successfully achieve orbit. Furthermore, it was not a failure with the vehicle, but the engines SpaceX built. While the company is putting on a brave face, it’s hard to imagine that the disaster does not sting. In a statement, Musk announced that Starship would be relaunched in the coming months. However, this is likely not the 4/20 that Elon was hoping for.


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