SpaceX revealed the cause behind the explosion of the recent Starship that blew up just minutes into its launch. The company said it activated the “flight termination system” during Thursday’s launch in southern Texas. Fox News reported:
The nearly 400-foot-tall Starship — the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built, with 33 engines — was essentially told to self-destruct as it veered off its planned course. It was carrying no people or satellites when it launched from southern Texas.
SpaceX said in a statement released on its website:
Starship gave us quite a show during today’s first flight test of a fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket from Starbase in Texas.
At 8:33 a.m. CT, Starship successfully lifted off from the orbital launch pad for the first time. The vehicle cleared the pad and beach as Starship climbed to an apogee of ~39 km over the Gulf of Mexico – the highest of any Starship to-date. The vehicle experienced multiple engines out during the flight test, lost altitude, and began to tumble. The flight termination system was commanded on both the booster and ship. As is standard procedure, the pad and surrounding area was cleared well in advance of the test, and we expect the road and beach near the pad to remain closed until tomorrow.
With a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and we learned a tremendous amount about the vehicle and ground systems today that will help us improve on future flights of Starship.
Thank you to our customers, Cameron County, and the wider community for the continued support and encouragement. And congratulations to the entire SpaceX team on an exciting first flight test of Starship!
It became clear early in the launch something went awry with the Starship. “Obviously this does not appear to be a nominal situation,” SpaceX’s aerospace engineer John Insprucker stated during the live broadcast of the launch. Reportedly, Elon Musk had given the launch 50-50 odds of the rocket reaching orbit.
“Every great achievement throughout history has demanded some level of calculated risk, because with great risk comes great reward. Looking forward to all that SpaceX learns, to the next flight test – and beyond,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said on Twitter. A testament to the innovation of SpaceX, NASA has reserved a Starship for it next space mission to the moon.
After the explosion, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded the rocket. The agency will be investigating the explosion to determine what went wrong with the launch. The FAA said, “An anomaly occurred during the ascent and prior to stage separation resulting in a loss of the vehicle.”
The FAA told Fox News, “A return to flight of the Starship/Super Heavy vehicle is based on the FAA determining that any system, process, or procedure related to the mishap does not affect public safety. This is standard practice for all mishap investigations.” Fortunately, there are no reported injuries or damage to public property following the explosion of the Starship. It will be exciting to see the continual development of SpaceX’s technology.
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