This morning was another big moment for SpaceX as it successfully launched the (still) experimental Starship off of its launchpad. Although the experience didn’t completely go as intended, the company still feels confident that it walked away with the data it needed to move forward.
It took months to get FAA approval since the first launch back in April that didn’t go so well. The company pulled a lot of data from that attempt as well, but the launch also caused significant damage to the pad throwing concrete everywhere, rained pieces of the exploded craft back down to Earth, and raised a lot of concern from activists and regulatory agencies alike.
But it has come a long way since there, building its water deluge system that combats any potential damage to the pad and fulfilling all other requirements applied by those regulatory agencies. Allowing the company to finally make a second attempt at its planned orbital flight.
All 33 of Super Heavy’s engines lit up this time, carrying the Starship into the sky. It reached its “hot stage” separation phase and successfully accomplished it. Setting a new record for Starship and Super Heavy when it comes to how far it made it into the mission.
However, the separation is where things went wrong. Although the separation was a success and Starship was able to light up its own engines (all six), Super Heavy started to spin. Which meant that SpaceX was not going to be able to recover the booster this round and it had to blow it up (or what the company calls “rapid unscheduled disassembly”). A few more minutes and the company also lost communication with Starship. Forcing it to self-destruct everything for concerns of safety since it no longer had proper control of the ship.
It’s unfortunate but comes at no surprise either. With only two launches, the company has already covered a lot of ground (and air) in its journey to turn Starship into a viable form of transportation. Just like the Falcon rockets, it’s going to take a bit of trial and error before Starship flights become open for business. The company still has quite the road ahead as getting Starship to complete an orbital flight is only part of the process. There is also the goal of trying to recapture the Super Heavy booster safely so it can be reused like the Falcon models before it.
You can watch the entire experience in the below video.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 18, 2023