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Thursday June 13, 2024

SpaceX Starship second test flight bombs in huge blowup for Elon Musk

SpaceX's Starship has been altered to employ "hot staging," a technique that is frequently employed by Russian rockets

By Web Desk
November 18, 2023

SpaceX Starship's second test flight bombed like the first one as it lost contact with the ground control minutes after launch, forcing the company to blow up the most powerful spacecraft ever mid-mission, adding to Elon Musk's losses, as his X platform is currently grappling with an exodus of major advertisers.

Shortly after, SpaceX encountered difficulty reestablishing communication with Starship and the company, during its live stream, verified that it had no choice but to initiate the self-destruct feature on Starship.

SpaceX Starship's second test flight was a failure since the Super Heavy launcher and Starship spacecraft detonated over the ocean, and SpaceX failed not meet all of its objectives.

However, SpaceX achieved some significant highlights.

Compared to the April initial flight attempt, when Starship started to tumble tail-over-head around four minutes after liftoff, the rocket reached far deeper into its flight profile. During the test, the Starship never even broke away from the Super Heavy rocket.

But this time, SpaceX succeeded in reaching that milestone: almost 2.5 minutes into the journey, the Starship ignited its engines and broke away using an innovative technique known as "hot staging."

Hot staging was anticipated to be "the riskiest part of the flight," according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, thus it was a pivotal moment for the company.

SpaceX has previously declared that if Starship survived that stage, the mission would be deemed successful. Yes, it did.

But things did not turn out quite as expected. Shortly after separation, the Super Heavy rocket started to tumble out of control, and a few minutes later it detonated over the Gulf of Mexico. Relighting the Super Heavy's engines and guiding it towards a safe landing were SpaceX's goals.

Not much goes wrong when you lose the booster. At first, Starship broke loose from Super Heavy and moved along quite fine.

Elon Musk aims to use SpaceX's Starship, the biggest rocket ever constructed, to colonise Mars one day. NASA is waiting for a modified version of Starship to put people on the moon. SpaceX is set to fly Starship for its second test launch on Saturday.

It follows a failed effort to launch the spacecraft in its fully-stacked configuration in April that resulted in a magnificent explosion over the Gulf of Mexico.

Though time is running out for a modified Starship to be ready for a scheduled lunar visit in 2025, SpaceX has claimed that explosions during the early stages of rocket development are desirable and can inform design choices faster than ground testing.

With a 20-minute launch window, the company's Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, will launch at 7:00am local time (1300 GMT).

The rocket surpasses the Statue of Liberty by a comfortable ninety feet when the two stages of Starship are combined to reach a height of 397 feet (121 metres).

Its Super Heavy booster produces 16.7 million pounds (74.3 Meganewtons) of thrust, almost double that of the world’s second most powerful rocket, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) – though the latter is now fully operational.

Both systems are designed to be fully reusable, a key element of SpaceX’s design meant to greatly reduce costs.

If the flight is successful, the booster will land in the Gulf of Mexico a few minutes after launch, while the upper stage will complete a partial trip around the Earth, almost obtaining orbital velocity, before belly-flopping into the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii after 90 minutes.

Four minutes after launch on April 20, SpaceX had to blow up Starship after the two stages failed to split. This was the first test flight gone wrong.

The rocket burst into a ball of fire and fell into the Gulf of Mexico, covering a hamlet several miles (kilometres) away with a cloud of dust.

The Federal Aviation Administration ultimately gave SpaceX permission to attempt again on Wednesday after a months-long review. However, this was not without opposition from environmental organisations, who are suing the agency on the grounds that it did not follow environmental legislation.

The way the spaceship detaches from the rocket has changed the most since the initial launch.

The Starship has been altered to employ "hot staging," a technique that is frequently employed by Russian rockets and has the potential to unleash significantly more force. This means that the upper-stage engines will fire while they are still linked to the booster.

Improvements to vents to lessen the chance of an explosion are among the other modifications.

The company's launchpad at Starbase was severely damaged in the first launch as well. To counteract the tremendous heat and force produced by launch, high-strength concrete and a water-jetting system have been added to the launchpad.