Watch the moment Starship’s booster explodes

Space Exploration Technologies Corporationhuge, methane-fueled starship It was flying at an altitude of 90 miles above Earth on Saturday morning but exploded before completing its run. space travel.

No injuries or damage to public property were reported following the test, federal officials said.

Starship, a 400-foot-tall super-heavy rocket and spacecraft, took off from SpaceX’s private spaceport in South Texas shortly after 7 a.m. local time.Rocket survives second major flight test Longer and farther than Aprilshowing significant engineering improvements over the past seven months.

especially, MuskThe company is eager to demonstrate a new method of separating boosters from spacecraft in the air, called “thermal staging.” The first stage ignited its engines before the second stage fell, and everything went according to plan. Soon after, the booster ruptured in a spectacular explosion.

The explosion was not entirely unexpected.

“There’s a good chance our booster will also take some damage from the second stage engine today, but we need to test it to see if the system can withstand it and collect data to understand how to better conduct thermals next. It’s time to upgrade,” Kate Tice, SpaceX’s quality systems engineering manager, said during a live broadcast on social platform X before launch. Acquired by Musk last year.

This is the moment the booster undergoes a “rapid unscheduled disassembly,” which is an “explosion” in aeronautics can Fast forward to 42:14 in the broadcast For fireworks:

SpaceX has integrated new thermal stage procedures to help prevent gravity from slowing down the spacecraft. The method also uses physics to do most of the work, pushing the two stages away from each other. Additionally, it could increase Starship’s lift capabilities, one day allowing it to carry about 10 percent more cargo and people into orbit.

“More payloads and more people going to Mars,” Theis said. Musk’s personal vision Fill Mars with a fleet of starships 1 million people By 2050.

Despite the booster explosion, the spacecraft continued to rise to an altitude almost three times higher than the previous attempt.

Image source: SpaceX / X screenshot

While flying over the Gulf of Mexico, something tripped the ship’s automatic flight termination system, causing the flight to end prematurely, SpaceX chief integration engineer John Insprucker said. Standard safety features for rocket explosions If something goes wrong during the flight.

If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft will orbit the Earth at an altitude of more than 150 miles before splashing down off the coast of Hawaii about 1.5 hours later. Instead, it exploded about eight minutes after liftoff.

“Success comes from what we learn through testing like this,” the company said. in a statement“Today’s test will help us improve Starship’s reliability as SpaceX works to enable multi-planetary life.”

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After the test, the FAA said it would investigate the anomalies that led to the destruction of the spacecraft and then determine a list of corrections that SpaceX must complete before it can fly Starship again.

This release is intended to serve as an important demonstration of the hardware NASA It refers to returning humans to the moon in the next few years.NASA has Contract worth $4 billion Partnering with SpaceX to use Starship to send astronauts to the moon Artemis III and IV, these two upcoming missions could take place as early as 2025 and 2028 respectively. Jim Free, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration systems at the time, said at a news conference in August that NASA could eventually change the mission if slippage in achieving key milestones continued.

But if there’s an undercurrent of concern about SpaceX’s pace of progress, it wasn’t evident in NASA leadership’s comments on Saturday.

“Space flight is a bold adventure that requires a can-do spirit and bold innovation. Today’s test is an opportunity to learn before flying again,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on X (the site formerly known as Twitter) Said in a post on. “Together @NASA and @SpaceX will return humans to the moon, Mars and beyond.”

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