Space X’s Starship exploded mid-air shortly after taking off on its first test launch from Boca Chica, Texas.
Minutes before the launch the countdown was briefly stopped due to some pressurization issues, raising fears of another cancellation.
After a few seconds of uncertainty, the countdown resumed to a chorus of cheers from SpaceX staff who had gathered to watch the live broadcast at the firm’s headquarters.
While initially lift-off went according to plan, three minutes 59 seconds after launch, and right before the first stage separated, the rocket went up in flames.
Despite this apparent failure to complete the mission, the initial reaction of SpaceX commentators during the live broadcast was positive, highlighting the test nature of today’s launch and the fact that achieving lift-off was seen as an accomplishment.
A few days earlier, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had also set expectations emphasizing the high probability of the test rocket not completing the planned trajectory. If fully successful, this would have involved the controlled return to ground of the Super Heavy rocket and the re-entry of the Starship at a designated point over the Pacific Ocean. Musk pointed out he would consider a success any outcome that allowed for the preservation of the essential launchpad.
A previous attempt to launch the Starship was cancelled three days earlier, on April 17, 2023.