SpaceX’s recent Starship test flight was nothing short of thrilling. The massive rocket, a hybrid of science fiction and the iconic Saturn V launched successfully, despite a brief halt and reset during the countdown. But just four minutes into the flight, something went wrong, causing the Starship to spiral out of control and explode during what rocket scientists call a “rapid unscheduled disassembly.”
Liftoff of Starship! pic.twitter.com/4t8mRP37Gp
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 20, 2023
Despite the failure, SpaceX founder Elon Musk had predicted a less than 50% chance of success, promising excitement either way. And excitement is precisely what viewers got, with live-streamers sounding like “excited 12-year-olds” as they watched the action unfold.
Starship Super Heavy has experienced an anomaly before stage separation! 💥 pic.twitter.com/MVw0bonkTi
— Primal Space (@thePrimalSpace) April 20, 2023
The test flight was a redo after a faulty pressurization valve caused the initial launch to be scrubbed. Neither the Super Heavy first stage nor the Starship second stage was meant to be recovered; instead, they were to crash in order to collect data on how the impact would affect each vehicle.
For Musk, the goal of the test flight was to gather as much data as possible, following his mantra of “Fail, Learn, Iterate, Succeed.” With SpaceX already looking ahead to the next test flight, Musk suggests that the only real brake on flight tempo might be further Starship prototypes’ production and iteration rate.
Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!
Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months. pic.twitter.com/gswdFut1dK
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 20, 2023
Despite the explosion, SpaceX engineers are expected to learn a great deal from the flight, with the launchpad largely intact and a trove of data to analyze. Musk stated, “Maybe the next flight makes it to Hawaii, or maybe not, but once again, it won’t be boring.”