SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft test launch ended in failure on Saturday when both the booster stage and spacecraft disintegrated shortly after a successful stage separation. The test launch, which was originally scheduled for Friday, had to be delayed as technicians replaced a grid fin actuator. This is not the first time a Starship launch has ended in disintegration, as a previous integrated flight test in April also resulted in the spacecraft breaking apart shortly after launch.
SpaceX had been waiting for months for clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct a second test flight of the Starship. The approval was finally granted on Wednesday, allowing the launch to proceed. The Starship was launched from SpaceX’s Texas facility atop a super heavy-lift booster rocket.
The launch was live-streamed by SpaceX, with the coverage starting 35 minutes before the launch window. The booster successfully completed a “hot stage” maneuver and detached from the rest of the spacecraft approximately 2 minutes and 49 seconds after liftoff. However, at around 3 minutes and 20 seconds into flight, the booster exploded. SpaceX announced about 13 minutes after launch that both the booster and Starship had experienced “rapid unscheduled disassembly.”
The purpose of Saturday’s launch was to test the Starship on a suborbital trajectory, which would have taken it into space but not into orbit. The Starship is designed to be reusable and capable of carrying astronauts on long-distance journeys in space.
The FAA released a preliminary statement on Saturday, acknowledging that a mishap occurred during the SpaceX Starship OFT-2 launch. The agency stated that there were no injuries or damage to public property reported. The FAA will oversee SpaceX’s investigation into the incident and will determine whether any system, process, or procedure related to the mishap poses a risk to public safety.
In conclusion, SpaceX’s latest Starship test launch ended in failure with the disintegration of both the booster stage and spacecraft. The FAA will be closely involved in the investigation to ensure public safety in future launches.