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Business News/ Science / News/  Starship destroyed itself intentionally: The ‘successful failure' of Elon Musk's prestige project
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Starship destroyed itself intentionally: The ‘successful failure' of Elon Musk's prestige project

The spectacular explosion of SpaceX's new Starship rocket minutes after it soared off its launch pad on a first flight test caught global attention as loyalists of Elon Musk and many others stayed glued to their screen to see the lift-off

SpaceX's Starship - the most powerful space rocket ever built - has blown up shortly after successfully launching in Texas (PTI)Premium
SpaceX's Starship - the most powerful space rocket ever built - has blown up shortly after successfully launching in Texas (PTI)

SpaceX and Elon Musk's prestige project Starship, also dubbed as the most powerful rocket ever developed, Starship's launch was a ‘successful failure’ conducted on Thursday.

The spectacular explosion of SpaceX's new Starship rocket minutes after it soared off its launch pad on a first flight test caught global attention as loyalists of Elon Musk and many others stayed glued to their screen to see the lift-off, which had been earlier postponed.

However, experts have suggested that the the explosion was ‘intentional’.

Here's what happened

SpaceX rocket called Starship exploded over the Gulf of Mexico three minutes into its first flight ever. Starship is the most powerful rocket ever developed and is designed to be fully reusable.

SpaceX in a tweet said that Starship experienced a rapid "unscheduled disassembly before stage separation," the rocket was intentionally destroyed by its self-destruct system, exploding and plummeting into the water.

Starship build

Elon Musk headed SpaceX's Starship is made of two different stages, or sections. Starship is almost 400 feet (120 metres) tall and weighs 11 million pounds (4.9 million kilograms).

The first stage, called Super Heavy, is a collection of 33 individual engines and provides more than twice the thrust of a Saturn V, the rocket that sent astronauts to the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s.

The first stage is designed to get the rocket to about 40 miles (65 kilometres) above Earth.

Once Super Heavy’s job is done, it is supposed to separate from the rest of the craft and land safely back on the surface to be used again.

At that point the second stage, called the Starship spacecraft, is supposed to ignite its own engines to carry the payload – whether people, satellites or anything else – into orbit.

Could the Starship explosion have been intentional?

SpaceX acknowledged that several of the Super Heavy's 33 powerful Raport engines malfunctioned on ascent and that the booster rocket and Starship failed to separate as designed before the ill-fated flight was terminated.

An out-of-control rocket full of highly flammable fuel is a very dangerous object, so to prevent any harm, SpaceX engineers triggered the self-destruct mechanism and blew up the entire rocket over the Gulf of Mexico.

All modern rockets have mechanisms built into them that allow engineers to safely destroy the rocket in flight if need be. SpaceX itself has blown up many of its own rockets during testing.

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Published: 21 Apr 2023, 10:12 PM IST
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