SpaceX launched its Starship megarocket, but lost the booster and spacecraft in two explosions minutes after Saturday’s test flight.
The rocket reached space after lifting off from south Texas, but communication was suddenly lost. SpaceX officials said it appears the spacecraft’s self-destruct system blew it up in the Gulf of Mexico.
The flight came to an end as the ship’s engines were almost finished firing to set it on a route around the world. The first test flight in April also ended in an explosion.
On Saturday, about three minutes into the flight, the separate booster also exploded over the gulf. By this time, however, his work was done.
Despite the failure, the approximately eight-minute flight lasted twice as long April test. At almost 121 meters tall, Starship is the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, with the aim of transporting people to the Moon and Mars.
“The real icing on the cake today, that successful liftoff,” said SpaceX commentator John Insprucker.
Commentator Kate Tice added: “We have a lot of data and all of it will help us improve for our next flight.”
SpaceX founder Elon Musk watched from behind launch controllers in far southern Texas, near the border with Mexico, near Boca Chica Beach.
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At the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, employees celebrated when Starship finally lifted off at dawn. The room fell silent as it became clear that the ship had been destroyed and crashed into the gulf. Reinforcement also ran out in the Gulf.
SpaceX aimed to reach an altitude of 150 miles (240 kilometers), high enough to send the bullet-shaped spacecraft around the globe before splashing down in the Pacific near Hawaii about an hour and a half after liftoff, before to complete the orbit.
After the April flight demonstration, SpaceX made dozens of improvements to the booster and its 33 engines, as well as the launch pad. O Federal Aviation Administration cleared the rocket for flight on Wednesday after confirming that all environmental and safety concerns were met.