On the morning of Saturday, November 18, at 8:00 a.m. local time, space technology company SpaceX conducted its second orbital flight test of the Starship rocket system. The rocket successfully lifted off from a platform at the company’s headquarters in Texas, but exploded minutes later. Nevertheless, SpaceX considers it a much more successful test than the first one that took place.
The “Starship” missile system consists of the first stage, or the “Super Heavy” launch vehicle, and the “Starship” spacecraft. Moments after the separation of the two stages, the Super Heavy exploded, but the Starship continued its flight for several minutes afterwards, this time longer than in the first test. However, 8 minutes after liftoff, the Starship also experienced an explosion, resulting in the loss of contact with the spacecraft.
The booster experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly shortly after stage separation while Starship’s engines fired for several minutes on its way to space
— SpaceX (@SpaceX)
Significantly, unlike the first attempt, when the Starship flew at an altitude of about 38 km, this time it was able to reach space and was at an altitude of 148 km at the time of the explosion.
It should be noted that in this attempt, SpaceX also used a new technique to separate the Starship spacecraft from the launch vehicle. This time, the Starship’s engines were fired before separation. In this way, the Starship was able to move away from the Super Heavy before it exploded. SpaceX’s next big challenge is to improve the launch vehicle’s performance. Overall, however, the company considers this test flight a success, as it provides a lot of information on how to improve the megarocket’s future performance.