SpaceX just launched the integrated version of it’s Starship rocket for the first time ever from their Starbase facility along the Texas coast. The rocket cleared the tower and made it into the upper reaches of the atmosphere/edge of space before the second stage failed to separate and the rocket suffered an “unplanned rapid disassembly” as the webcasters called it – or in layman’s terms – an explosion.
Watch the full video here:
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 20, 2023
We recommend starting at time stamp: 48:00 to get close to the final launch countdown and the actual launch.
There was a big crowd at Starbase and at the Cameron County Amphitheater on South Padre Island to witness the launch. The crowd included Texas legend John Carmack of ID Software (Doom / Quake) fame, who was up until recently head of Meta’s VR projects, and who also at one point owned his own rocket startup called Armadillo Aerospace.
Wow. That was really something! The entire building was shaking! Enormous levels of competency at SpaceX. https://t.co/w13Ytj9rGx
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) April 20, 2023
Starship successfully launched and cleared the tower, but as it reached the point where the first and second stage should separate something went wrong and the rocket began to spin. After a few rotations something occurred and ground cameras witnessed the lower stage and upper stage exploding resulting in thunderous cheers from the crowd gathered to see something spectacular.
The camera shot switched to Elon and his ground control team in a room they dub “Starbase Command”. While Elon had a slight grin on his face, it seemed he was not happy with the outcome of the launch and had expected the rocket to fully separate successfully. He tweeted out his congrats on the launch though:
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
Explosions are part of SpaceX’s history. The company lost several rockets over numerous years to explosions before perfecting their reusable rocket technology, which today is used to deploy satellites and resupply the International Space Station. It stands to reason this explosion is no different and that we inched ever closer to a large, integrated, reusable chemical rocket system today that will one day take space tourists to the Moon and Mars.
The company is already planning a second launch in a few months.
Featured photo a compilation of screenshots from the SpaceX webcast embedded above