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SpaceX’s Starship rocket explodes on its first test flight

SpaceX’s Starship rocket explodes on its first test flight

the largest rocket in the world, Starshipdeveloped by SpaceX for flights to the moon and Mars, exploded in flight shortly after its first liftoff, but Elon Musk praised its teams and hailed the “tremendous” first test flight.

In a giant ball of fire, this 120-meter-tall black-and-silver giant tore itself out of the ground around 8:30 am local time (9:30 am in Quebec) at the Starbase space base, located in the far south of Texas. , in the United States, to greet SpaceX employees.

But four minutes after liftoff, the SpaceX crews deliberately blew up the entire rocket.

the ship StarshipWhich constitutes the second stage of the missile, it was separated from the launch pad after three minutes, but this separation did not take place.

“The vehicle experienced multiple engine failures during the test flight, lost altitude and began descending,” SpaceX said. “The kill-in-flight system was triggered on both the launch pad and the vehicle,” the company added.

Such a procedure is usual in the event that a falling flying object could pose a danger.

“calculated risk”

Despite this outburst, the SpaceX teams welcome the test.

“We were able to get off the launch pad, and that, honestly, was everything we could have hoped for,” SpaceX engineer Kate Tice said during the company’s live video.

The purpose of this test was to collect as much data as possible to improve the next prototypes.

“We’ve learned a lot for our next launch test in a few months,” Elon Musk wrote on Twitter.

Starship Both are larger than NASA’s massive new SLS rocket (98m), which first lifted off in November, and the legendary Saturn V, the Apollo moon program’s rocket (111m).

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The thrust of the takeoff Starship It is also twice as powerful as these two launchers, making it the most powerful in the world.

It has never flown before in its full configuration, with its super-powerful first stage, called Super Heavy and equipped with no fewer than 33 engines.

Only the second stage of the craft, the ship Starshipwhich gives the entire rocket launcher its name, has conducted suborbital tests (at an altitude of about 10 km).

It was he who was chosen by NASA to become, in a modified version, the probe for the Artemis 3 mission, which should return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in more than half a century. Officially in 2025.

NASA chief Bill Nelson paid tribute to SpaceX. “Every great achievement in history requires some level of calculated risk,” he wrote on Twitter, saying he was “looking forward” to the next test.

Expected explosion

If the planned separation 3 minutes after liftoff is successful, the spacecraft Starship It should then have started its six engines and followed its ascent on its own, up to an altitude of more than 150 km, and then descended back into the Pacific Ocean after just under a circumnavigation of the Earth.

But Elon Musk wanted to temper expectations, saying that reaching orbit on the first try was unlikely.

He was content with hoping that the launch pad would not be destroyed by the Super Heavy engines exploding on ignition.

On Monday, the first launch attempt was canceled in the final minutes of the countdown, due to a technical problem.

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Slanted prices

The rocket already has customers: the first manned flight of Starship With American billionaire Jared Isaacman.

Starship It should be able to carry up to 150 tons of cargo into orbit.

But its real innovation is that it has to be completely reusable.

In the end, Super Heavy will have to return to Earth against the launch tower and ship. Starship You will have to land back on Earth using the retrorocket. After several tests in 2020 and 2021, a successful Phase 1 prototype has finally arrived.

The idea of ​​a reusable launcher, Elon Musk’s grand strategy, is to lower prices, bringing them down to “a few million” dollars per flight, he says.

An absolute necessity for the billionaire who estimates that humans will need hundreds of rockets Starship For a chance to become a multi-planetary species. Its ultimate goal is to establish an independent colony on Mars.

Let’s see in the video