SpaceX’s Starship, the world’s largest and most powerful rocket, exploded during its second failed orbital launch in a week.
Built to go to Mars, the unmanned spacecraft cleared the launchpad in South Texas but went into a tailspin when the rocket failed to separate over the Gulf of Mexico.
The mission ended when the failure sent the craft crashing toward Earth, imploding mid-descent.
Despite the craft going up in flames, the team at SpaceX reportedly celebrated with champagne bottles and chanted ‘go Starship’ after the explosion.
The $3 billion Starship spacecraft that was supposed to carry crew and cargo had been scheduled to separate from the first-stage rocket booster three minutes into the flight, but the separation failed to occur and the rocket blew up in a ball of fire over the Gulf of Mexico.
Musk himself was braced for a failed launch, claiming last month that there was a 50 percent chance his spacecraft could explode during the test flight.
The billionaire congratulated the SpaceX team on Twitter about 20 minutes after the craft went up in flames.
SpaceX then shared on Twitter that its team will review data and work toward another flight for the rocket. ‘With a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and today’s test will help us improve Starship’s reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multi-planetary,’ they said.
Starship consists of a 164-foot (50-meter) tall spacecraft designed to carry crew and cargo that sits atop a 230-foot tall first-stage Super Heavy booster rocket.
The mission was supposed to see the craft blast 150 miles high into the atmosphere before cruising for an hour and crashing into the Pacific Ocean.
Despite the failure, Musk and the company’s leadership have repeatedly stressed the experimental nature of the launch and said any result that involved Starship getting off the launchpad would be a success.
The mission was always due to end with the destruction of the Starship rocket.
Musk has said the entire program will cost anywhere from $3 billion to $10 billion, and any setbacks will still be hugely expensive.