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SpaceX Experiences Explosions During Starship’s Second Test Flight

by Gabriel Martinez
7 comments
SpaceX Starship Test

SpaceX’s colossal rocket, Starship, experienced a setback during its recent test flight, resulting in the loss of both the spacecraft and its booster due to explosions shortly after takeoff on Saturday.

The Starship successfully reached space after launching from South Texas, but communication was abruptly lost. SpaceX representatives indicated that the spacecraft likely activated its self-destruct mechanism while over the Gulf of Mexico.

The booster had also disintegrated over the gulf minutes before, having completed its primary function by then.

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The duration of Saturday’s demonstration was around eight minutes, which is double the length of April’s first test, also marred by an explosion. The latest flight terminated just as the ship’s engines were nearing the completion of their burn to set it on a global trajectory.

Standing at nearly 400 feet (121 meters), Starship is the tallest and most potent rocket ever constructed, aiming to transport humans to the moon and Mars.

SpaceX commentator John Insprucker expressed excitement over the successful launch, highlighting that all 33 booster engines functioned as planned, an improvement over the previous test. The booster’s smooth detachment from the spacecraft, which ascended to 92 miles (148 kilometers), was also noted.

Kate Tice, another commentator, stressed the value of the data collected from the flight, which would contribute to future enhancements.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, observed the launch from the company’s southernmost Texas location, near Boca Chica Beach, close to the Mexico border. Meanwhile, SpaceX staff in Hawthorne, California, initially celebrated the launch, but the mood shifted upon realizing the spaceship’s destruction.

SpaceX’s target altitude for this test was 150 miles (240 kilometers), aiming to orbit the spacecraft around Earth before it plunged into the Pacific near Hawaii, about 90 minutes post-launch, not completing a full orbit.

Post-April’s flight, SpaceX implemented several improvements to both the rocket and the launch pad. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the flight on Wednesday, confirming adherence to all safety and environmental standards.

Following the launch, the FAA confirmed no public damage or injuries and announced an investigation to determine the cause of the failure. SpaceX is prohibited from launching another Starship until the investigation concludes and necessary adjustments are made.

NASA, which has entrusted SpaceX with a $3 billion contract, expects Starship to land astronauts on the moon by late 2025 or shortly after. This mission involves transferring astronauts from NASA’s Orion capsule to Starship in lunar orbit before descending to the moon’s surface.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, speaking via X (formerly known as Twitter), emphasized the importance of subsequent flights.

Starship stands 34 feet (10 meters) taller than NASA’s historic Saturn V rocket and 75 feet (23 meters) above NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, which orbited the moon last year without a crew. Starship also boasts approximately twice the liftoff thrust of these predecessors.

As with the previous test, Starship carried no valuable cargo during this trial run.

Once operational, Musk intends to use these fully reusable mega rockets for satellite deployments, lunar missions, and eventually, voyages to Mars.


The Big Big News Health and Science Department, supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group, provided this report. The AP maintains full editorial responsibility for the content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about SpaceX Starship Test

What happened during SpaceX’s recent Starship test flight?

The test flight of SpaceX’s Starship ended in the loss of both the spacecraft and its booster due to explosions shortly after launch. The spacecraft reached space but lost communication and likely self-destructed over the Gulf of Mexico, while the booster had exploded earlier, having completed its primary function.

How long did SpaceX’s Starship test flight last and how did it compare to the first test?

The test flight lasted approximately eight minutes, which is double the duration of the first test conducted in April. Both tests ended in explosions, but the recent one achieved a longer flight duration.

What are the future goals for SpaceX’s Starship?

SpaceX’s Starship, the tallest and most powerful rocket ever built, is designed to transport humans to the moon and Mars. The company plans to use it for satellite deployments around Earth, lunar missions, and eventually, Mars exploration.

What was the target altitude for SpaceX’s Starship during this test and did it achieve it?

The target altitude for the test was 150 miles (240 kilometers), with the goal of sending the spacecraft around the globe before it descended into the Pacific near Hawaii. However, the mission ended prematurely due to the explosions.

Has SpaceX received any contracts related to the Starship?

Yes, NASA has awarded SpaceX a $3 billion contract to use Starship for landing astronauts on the moon by late 2025 or shortly after. This includes transferring astronauts from NASA’s Orion capsule to Starship in lunar orbit.

What measures did SpaceX take after the first test flight in April?

Following the first test flight, SpaceX made numerous improvements to the rocket and the launch pad. These enhancements were part of their ongoing effort to refine the Starship for future missions.

What are the regulatory implications following the Starship test flight?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has commenced an investigation into the cause of the explosions. Until the investigation is complete and necessary adjustments are made, SpaceX is prohibited from launching another Starship.

More about SpaceX Starship Test

  • SpaceX Official Website
  • NASA’s Artemis Program
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education
  • SpaceX Starship Development History
  • Space Exploration News Updates
  • The Future of Space Travel and Exploration
  • SpaceX and NASA Partnership Details
  • Advanced Rocket Technology and Space Missions
  • Environmental Impact of Space Launches

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7 comments

MarsOrBust November 18, 2023 - 9:06 pm

its amazing that we’re even talking about sending people to Mars! Imagine, just a few decades ago this would’ve been pure sci-fi.

Reply
EcoWarrior November 19, 2023 - 1:39 am

i’m concerned about the wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, those explosions must have had some impact, right? anyone know more about this?

Reply
SpaceFanatic99 November 19, 2023 - 2:59 am

wow, SpaceX is really pushing the boundaries, aren’t they? i mean, two explosions and they’re still going strong. That’s commitment!

Reply
GlobalWatcher November 19, 2023 - 3:03 am

It’s not just about the rocket, it’s the whole geopolitics of space. SpaceX is changing the game on a global scale. Interesting times ahead…

Reply
RocketLover November 19, 2023 - 3:14 am

Did anyone else notice the part about the FAA’s investigation? This could be big, guys. regulations are no joke in the space industry..

Reply
TechJunkie21 November 19, 2023 - 3:45 am

I’m curious about the environmental impacts of these launches, does anyone have more info on that? feels like that part often gets overlooked…

Reply
SpaceHistoryBuff November 19, 2023 - 7:19 am

Can’t help but think of the early days of space exploration. Every failure brings us closer to success, just like in the 60s and 70s.

Reply

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