Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, considers this as a successful mission
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, considers this as a successful mission (Image via NASA Spaceflight)

A rocket test by SpaceX on Thursday, April 20, 2023, that was intended to be used for moon and Mars expeditions ended in an explosion. This led to disbelief among the workers who had gathered to watch the launch live on the company’s website.

Following a high-altitude test on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, the rocket blew up shortly after safely touching down. However, SpaceX has hailed the mission as a success. The rocket successfully landed during the test on Wednesday, which was a first for the Starship model. Moreover, it also stayed in place for eight solid minutes before blowing off.

SpaceX Starship rocket explodes in mid-air, shortly after launching 

Starship blasted shortly after take-off
Starship blasted shortly after take-off (Image via NASA Spaceflight)

The Starship rocket from SpaceX successfully departed its launch site on Thursday. However, it was unable to separate from its booster and exploded within four minutes after takeoff.

The unmanned spacecraft blasted off from the launch pad. There was supposed to be a 90-minute voyage around the Earth before a splashdown close to Hawaii, according to SpaceX.

However, when the rocket got near MaxQ, it started to twirl in the air before starting to fall and then burst into flames. Some of the 39 engines seemed to have malfunctioned, according to a livestream of the launch.

For nearly four minutes, the unmanned rocket burned up and shot into the sky. However, it didn’t seem to be able to separate its booster from the spacecraft that was perched on top of it. 33 engines made up the booster, some of which didn’t seem to fire.

The rocket then started to descend before detonating.

Although SpaceX has not yet provided an explanation for the explosion, analysts think it may have been caused by a propellant tank leak in SN10. According to some sources, the explosion may have also been caused by a leak of the methane that SpaceX uses to fuel their Starship rocket. However, nothing can be determined as of yet because SpaceX has not provided any clarity.

Furthermore, this was Starship prototype’s third test, so the accomplishments it made in such a short period of time are astounding. Therefore, the engineers and the employees are considering it as a success.

“As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation,” Soon after the test, SpaceX tweeted. “Teams will continue to review data and work toward our next flight test.”

Additionally, the company had emphasized that the test was just the first stage.

“Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!” Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, tweeted. “Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.”

“Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high, but we got all the data we needed”, Musk said in another tweet at the time.

SpaceX’s principal integration engineer, John Insprucker said, “Starship just experienced what we call a rapid, unscheduled disassembly. As we said, excitement was guaranteed.”

Even after Starship caught fire, the SpaceX workers continued to applaud. According to SpaceX, launching the 400-foot-tall rocket off the launch pad successfully represents a significant advancement towards the company’s ultimate objective of one day transporting people to the moon and Mars.

The Starship rocket’s first two prototypes were launched in December 2020 and February 2021, but both times they landed incorrectly and exploded. On December 9 of last year, the SN8 rocket underwent a test flight. It launched as planned and ascended 7.8 miles. SN8 exploded as a result of the engines’ failure to slow the rocket down after it flipped and began descending towards Earth for landing.

Therefore, after the failure of the first two prototypes, it’s a good thing that this one showed a promising future. Therefore, the NASA Artemis program will rely heavily on this rocket, the most potent yet created. It seeks to land people on the moon in 2025.

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Bias Sinha is a Writer at Spiel Times. She is an introvert who is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Education. Moreover, she used to work as a freelance content writer. She is interested in books, old movies, and K-dramas. In her leisure time, she likes to read, make DIY crafts, create scrapbooks, watch series and spend time with her fur baby. Furthermore, she is also writing her own book.