Wed, 17 April 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

SpaceX Starship spacecraft 'lost' on atmospheric reentry

Update : 14 Mar 2024, 20:47

SpaceX's "Starship" rocket took off from the company's Starbase launch site in Texas Thursday, aiming for a successful test flight after the previous two ended with explosions.

While the first part of the mega-rocket's journey was a success, the spaceship stage of the rocket system was lost on re-entry to the atmosphere.

Starship, the largest rocket ever built, is important in NASA's plans to land astronauts on the moon later this decade and for Tesla billionaire Elon Musk's hopes of eventually colonizing Mars.

How did the launch go?

A live SpaceX webcast of the liftoff showed the rocketship, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty, rising from the launch tower site near the city of Brownsville.

Starship consists of a roughly 70-meter-long (230-foot) booster called Super Heavy and a 50-meter-long upper stage, also called Starship. The company tweeted a video as the craft ignited its cluster of powerful Raptor engines for "hot staging separation" 44 miles (72 kilometers) above the Earth. 

The system has been developed to allow both the spacecraft and rocket to be reused after they return to Earth. Both stages are scheduled to complete a controlled landing in the sea at the end of the approximately hour-long journey.

Starship was coasting in space 15 minutes after liftoff, and was expected to start atmospheric reentry some 50 minutes into the mission

The launch came less than 24 hours after US federal regulators granted SpaceX a license for the test.

Starship should be able to carry well over 100 tons of cargo in future launches.

What went wrong the last two times?

SpaceX staged its first so-called "integrated" test in April 2023.  It was forced to blow up Starship within a few minutes of the launch, because the two stages failed to separate.

The rocket disintegrated and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

A second test in November 2023 did a little better as the booster separated from the spaceship, but both then exploded.

The company euphemistically described the failure as a "rapid unscheduled disassembly."

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