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SpaceX's Starship Suffers Mishap During Second Test Flight

SpaceX’s Starship failed its test flight this last Saturday morning when the flight termination system was triggered about 10 minutes into its voyage. As engineers lost contact with the craft this marked the company’s second attempt at sending Starship on a 90 minute trip that would nearly circle the globe. In April we saw the initial test flight which also failed 4 minutes after liftoff


SpaceX's next-generation Starship spacecraft sits atop its powerful Super Heavy rocket
SpaceX's next-generation Starship spacecraft sits atop its powerful Super Heavy rocket - Photo by: Joe Skipper/Reuters


Just as we saw back in April, Saturday’s launch took place at Spacex’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas. This time, each Raptor engine lit properly and the stage separation from the Super Heavy Booster worked for the most part. The vehicle managed to survive Max Q, which is the point in the rocket’s ascent profile where it undergoes the most pressure both from its own velocity as well as the atmosphere. After some 3 minutes after launch, Starship separated from the Super Heavy booster, the booster then exploded (commonly referred to as RUD or Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly)


The flight was going fairly smoothly until about 10 minutes into the trip when SpaceX mission control lost contact with the vehicle. Starship responded by triggering the flight termination system thereby making it the second stage to experience RUD. If this test flight was successful it would have developed an altitude of 146 miles and was positioned to splash down off the coast of Hawaii somewhere around 8:30 central time


This is the second time that a Starship test flight has gotten off to a promising start but failed several minutes into the flight. While this is unfortunate, the team at SpaceX remains confident.


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