SpaceX's 1st Starship launches on epic test flight, explodes in 'rapid unscheduled disassembly'

SpaceX
# 20 April 2023 18:18 (UTC +04:00)

The most powerful rocket ever built put on quite a show during its debut space launch, APA reports citing Space.com.

With a mighty roar, the first-ever integrated Starship rocket soared toward space today (April 20) from SpaceX's seaside Starbase facility at Boca Chica Beach here on South Texas' Gulf Coast at 9:33 a.m. EDT (1333 GMT; 8:33 a.m. local Texas time).

It was a spectacular and surreal sight: The 394-foot-tall (120 meters) Starship, the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built, rose off Starbase's orbital launch mount atop a pillar of flame generated by its 33 first-stage Raptor engines. Starship kept climbing in defiance of its tremendous bulk, its shiny, stainless-steel body reflecting the Texas morning sun all the while.

The climb didn't last long, however. The 165-foot-tall (50 m) Starship upper stage was supposed to separate from the Super Heavy first stage about three minutes after liftoff, but that never happened. The two vehicles remained connected, and the stack began to tumble, ultimately exploding — or experiencing a "rapid unscheduled disassembly," as SpaceX terms it — just under four minutes after launch.

But the employees gathered at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California to watch the launch let out a massive cheer at Starship's demise, celebrating the gains made on its first-ever liftoff. The giant vehicle reached a maximum altitude of about 24 miles (39 kilometers), according to the data on SpaceX's launch webcast.

"To get this far is amazing," SpaceX's Kate Tice said during the webcast. "Everything after clearing the tower was icing on the cake."

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THE OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED