SpaceX's Starship Test Mission Explodes Mid-Flight
- November, 19, 2023 - 14:48
- Space/Science news
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – SpaceX's uncrewed spacecraft Starship, designed for lunar voyages, experienced a setback during its second test flight, halting its mission abruptly after successfully reaching space, yet suffering an explosion mid-flight.
Launched from the Starbase site in Texas, the rocket aimed to propel the Starship spacecraft about 90 miles above the ground on a test journey to space and back. Despite achieving separation from its core stage, the rocket's Super Heavy first stage booster exploded over the Gulf of Mexico after detaching, as shown in a SpaceX webcast.
While the core Starship stage continued its ascent, SpaceX's mission control unexpectedly lost contact, leading engineers to speculate an automated flight termination command triggered the rocket's destruction, though the cause remained unclear.
John Insprucker, a SpaceX engineer, conveyed the loss of data from the second stage, hinting at a possible malfunction. Notably, footage indicated an explosion at an altitude of 91 miles.
This test marked the second endeavor for Starship mounted atop the Super Heavy rocket booster, following an explosive failure during a prior attempt in April.
The US Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the mishap and initiated an investigation, aiming to prevent similar incidents in the future.
While the setback poses challenges for SpaceX, industry analysts emphasize the company's culture of rapid testing and improvement, viewing this as a learning opportunity despite the setback.
SpaceX aims to deploy Starship for lunar missions under NASA's Artemis program, a critical element in the agency's ambitions to return humans to the moon. The setback raises concerns about timelines and delivery for these crucial missions.
CEO Elon Musk views Starship as a potential replacement for Falcon 9, SpaceX's primary launch vehicle, emphasizing the need to swiftly address the setbacks in the test program.
With NASA's significant interest in Starship's success, the agency acknowledges the learning opportunity presented by this setback and underscores the necessity to resume testing promptly. SpaceX investors anticipate a robust response to address the technical failures.
The clock is ticking for SpaceX as it aims to meet NASA's ambitious timelines for lunar missions, with industry observers eagerly awaiting the company's swift resumption of tests.