The SpaceX Starship is supposedly made to take astronauts to the moon and beyond that. It has been built to explore space and acquire more knowledge about space and galaxies. Today it launched after a long preparation and the hard work of powerful minds. However, the Spacex Starship’s launch took a pivotal turn.
Minutes after taking off on an unmanned test flight, SpaceX’s Starship rocket blew up, marking the fiery conclusion of the vehicle’s first flight and a vehicle Elon Musk hopes to use for deep-space exploration in the future.
Soon after the launch, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted that the company had learned a lot from the flight and that it would try again in a few months. The goal is to show that Starship’s Super Heavy booster can send its big spacecraft into orbit and land both of them safely for future use.
Any rocket’s first test flight will be difficult, so SpaceX tried to lower expectations for its launch attempt on April 20. The official countdown timeline, in a somewhat ironic statement, promised “excitement guaranteed” upon launch.
The rocket took off just after 8:30 in the morning local time. It was evident almost immediately that a few of the thirty-three engines in the first stage had failed, and more engines continued to flame out as the craft rose higher into the sky.
The rocket started spinning out of control before the Starship could detach from its booster. About four minutes into the flight, it exploded.
It was discovered in the aftermath that Starship’s flight termination system, intended to destroy the spacecraft in the event that it lost control, had malfunctioned. Furthermore, during liftoff, the rocket’s first stage crushed the concrete launch pad, launching debris chunks and particulate dust skyward.
According to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the pad’s failure in particular was embarrassing.
Government regulators were also drawn to these rocketry mishaps. In order to conduct a safety and environmental review, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded Starship. The regulator gave SpaceX permission to try again earlier this week, in part due to modifications the company made to the design.
First, Starship’s self-destruct mechanism now has more power thanks to engineering upgrades. Larger explosive charges were added with the intention of destroying the beefy rocket should it deviate from its intended path, as it did in April.
On Saturday, that investment appeared to have paid off. With the second stage of Starship almost done, communication with mission control was abruptly lost. The automated flight termination system, according to the company, activated very late in the rocket’s burn.
The FAA said in a statement that Starship went down because of an “anomaly.”
According to the agency, “no injuries or damage to public property have been reported.”
The company also developed a completely new system for the Starship’s booster rocket attachment for this second test.
It permits the spacecraft to continue into orbit by using its engines to detach from the booster while in flight. However, SpaceX is not accustomed to using this so-called “hot staging” tactic on American rockets.
It seemed to function well, as Starship powered away from the Super Heavy booster with ease. However, the booster—which is meant to be reusable—exploded soon after separation. It’s too early to tell if the booster was harmed by hot staging, but that is one possibility.
Third, the company says that the Super Heavy booster rocket used in this flight has some significant improvements over the previous one.
The thrust of its numerous engines is primarily controlled by an electrical mechanism. As it turned out, during the first stage of the flight, all 33 engines seemed to run without a hitch.
At last, the launchpad received a major upgrade after being severely damaged during the first flight test. This time, a water deluge system installed by SpaceX ought to prevent the pad from overheating.
Similar systems are frequently employed in other launch pads. Once more, it appeared as though the spaceflight company had won: no reports of concrete chunks flying from the pad were made.