Report reaching 9news Nigeria desk has that the largest and most powerful rocket ever built has blasted off from Texas but blew up within minutes in a test flight that its makers, SpaceX, hope will be the first step on a human journey to Mars.
After a cancelled launch earlier this week due to a pressurisation issue, the 120-metre Starship rocket system took off at 8:33 am local time (2:33 pm in the UK) on Thursday. It gathered speed but then started to spin at altitude before exploding about four minutes after leaving the ground.
It appeared that the two sections of the rocket system – the booster and cruise vessel – were unable to separate properly after takeoff, possibly causing the spacecraft to fail.
“As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation,” SpaceX said in a statement on Twitter, referring to the explosion.
SpaceX had previously cautioned that the chances of success were low and that the aim of the test flight was to gather data, regardless of whether the full mission was achieved. Employees at SpaceX cheered even after the rocket exploded.
The uncrewed sub-orbital test marked the first “fully stacked” trial in which the Starship cruise vessel – which is designed to eventually carry up to 100 astronauts – was placed on top of the Super Heavy booster rocket, whose 33 Raptor engines provided the immense thrust needed.
Almost as long as three passenger jets, the mammoth spacecraft stands 10 metres taller than the Saturn V rocket that sent humans to the moon in 1969.
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, gained the necessary approval last week from the Federal Aviation Administration for the launch to go ahead.