Starship's Launch Ends in Flames

World's most powerful rocket doesn't quite make it into the atmosphere
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2023 8:10 AM CDT
Updated Apr 20, 2023 9:00 AM CDT
It's Take Two for Starship
Visitors look on as SpaceX's Starship, the world's biggest and most powerful rocket, stands ready for a scheduled launch from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, Wednesday, April 19, 2023.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
UPDATE Apr 20, 2023 9:00 AM CDT

SpaceX's massive rocket did indeed get off the ground on Thursday morning, but it quickly returned there in flames and never made it into orbit, reports the New York Times. Starship exploded over the Gulf of Mexico minutes after liftoff from the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas; it appeared that the so-called "Booster 7" failed to separate when it should have. SpaceX and CEO Elon Musk had cautioned that it might take several attempts to get the launch right; the explosion was greeted with much applause in the control room. You can see video here.

Apr 20, 2023 8:10 AM CDT

Take two: SpaceX is preparing to launch the most powerful rocket ever created ahead of an hour-long launch window that opens at 9:28am ET Thursday. The inaugural launch of Starship was initially scheduled for Monday but the unmanned test flight was called off at the last minute due to what SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said was a frozen "pressurant valve." However, crews carried on with a "wet dress rehearsal" at SpaceX's facility in Boca Chica, Texas, that included all steps leading up to liftoff, CNN reports. That should build confidence for Thursday's expected launch. Fueling of Starship's Super Heavy booster and upper stage were underway shortly after 8am ET, according to tweets.

"The chances of scrubs are high," a SpaceX commentator said Wednesday during a webcast of the launch of Starlink satellites, per "But whether a scrub or liftoff or a rapid unscheduled disassembly, or some combination of all of the above, excitement is pretty much guaranteed." The nearly 400-foot-tall methane-fueled rocket is expected to fly around the Earth at a height of about 150 miles. If all goes well, the 230-foot-tall booster dubbed "Booster 7" will separate about 2.5 minutes after takeoff and fall into the Gulf of Mexico, while the 164-foot-tall spacecraft dubbed "Ship 24" is expected to end up in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii about 90 minutes after liftoff, per CNN and Neither will be recovered this time. (More SpaceX stories.)

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