SpaceX Starship launch fails due to "rapid unscheduled disassembly"
An initially successful launch attempt of SpaceX's Starship and Super Heavy rocket has ended in an explosion.
SpaceX has said it's Starship and Super Heavy rocket has suffered a "rapid unscheduled disassembly" following an initially successful launch.
The spaceflight company was set to attempt the first fully integrated launch of the Starship and Super Heavy on 17 April, but cancelled the launch to today, 20 April, citing a frozen pressurant valve.
The launch initially looked good, but about 4 minutes into its first flight, the rocket system suffered what engineers have dubbed a "rapid unscheduled disassembly".
The flight was due to see the Starship make one orbit of Earth before splashing down in the waters near Hawaii.
If successful, the flight would have marked the first fully integrated flight test of the Starship capsule and Super Heavy rocket.
Rather than citing today's events as a failure, however, SpaceX is maintaining a positive outlook, publicly at least.
"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," the company tweeted.
"Teams will continue to review data and work toward our next flight test."
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Starship is SpaceX’s reusable spaceflight transportation system, designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit.
It is also earmarked for future journeys to carry astronauts to the Moon and to Mars.
Numerous suborbital flight tests of Starship’s upper stage have already been completed, along with tests of the Super Heavy rocket that will carry the capsule into Earth orbit.
Today’s launch was to mark the first fully integrated test flight of the rocket system.
Rewatch the SpaceX Starship launch
You can find out more at SpaceX.com.
Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Content Editor. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.