SpaceX’s Starship exploded in a ball of flames on 4/20 during its first orbital launch.
The massive 365-foot-tall rocket launched around 9:30am after a pause on the countdown clock to finish final checks.
The two stages climbed toward space but experienced an issue when the Super Heavy booster and Starship did not separate.
The failure sent both stages crashing down toward Earth, but they imploded mid-descent.
Elon Musk claimed last month that there was a 50 percent chance his spacecraft could explode during the launch.
The goal was to clear the pad, which was completed, but as the 365-foot-tall rocket climbed into space, it burst into a ball of flames.
Excitement: The rocket ship that could one-day power humans to Mars is set to make its maiden orbital flight today. Elon Musk’s Starship is pictured on the launchpad here
Elon Musk’s $3 billion (£2.4 billion), 395ft-tall Starship is the most powerful rocket humanity has ever produced, packing almost double the thrust of any other in history
The uncrewed mission saw SpaceX’s Starship complete almost one circuit of the globe while the booster blasted it into orbit and splashed back down in the Gulf of Mexico about eight minutes after launch. Super Heavy will not be recovered.
However, despite the huge excitement, Musk has warned people to temper their expectations — last month, he claimed there was a 50 percent chance his spacecraft could explode during the launch.
The tech billionaire also told a Twitter Spaces event: ‘It’s the first launch of a very complicated, gigantic rocket, so it might not launch.
‘We’re going to be very careful, and if we see anything that gives us concern, we will postpone the launch.
‘If we do launch, I would consider anything that does not result in the destruction of the launch pad itself to be a win.’
If the first orbital launch attempt is unsuccessful, Musk said that SpaceX is building several more Starship rockets and that overall he believes there is an 80 percent chance one of them will reach orbit before the end of the year.
The mission – which will send Starship around Earth once before it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii – will be an early milestone in Musk’s ambition for the craft to carry people and cargo to the moon and Mars.
This launch vehicle has 33 Raptor engines capable of generating 17 million pounds of lift-off thrust.
Today SpaceX plans to go for 90 percent thrust, which should deliver something close to 70 meganewtons.
Ready: The rocket is due to life-off from Boca Chica in Texas between 8:28am local time (14:28 BST) and 9:30am (15:30 BST)
The uncrewed mission will see SpaceX’s Starship complete almost one circuit of the globe, while the booster that blasts it into orbit splashes back down in the Gulf of Mexico about eight minutes after launch. Crowds have been waiting since before the sun came up
STARSHIP: KEY FACTS
First launch: April 20, 2023?
What will it be used for? Partly the lander for NASA’s moon missions but also to transport humans to Mars.
Height: 395ft (120m)
Weight: 11 million pounds (5 million kg)
Thrust: 17 million pounds (70 Meganetons)
Is it reusable? Yes
Max payload to low-Earth orbit: 220,000-330,000 pounds (100-150 tonnes)
Max payload to lunar orbit: 220,000 pounds (100 tonnes)
Solid fuel: N/A
Liquid fuel: Oxygen and methane
Engines: Powered by around 32 Raptor engines
Crew module: Starship (ultimately able to carry up to 100 passengers)
Cost to build: Around $3 billion (£2.4 billion) in terms of total development
Price per launch: Ultimately around $2 million (1.7 million), according to Musk
Where will it launch from? Likely the Starbase facility near Boca Chica, Texas. But possibly Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
Total launches: 0
This equates to the force needed to propel almost 100 Concordes at takeoff.
Ahead of the launch, British astronaut Tim Peake said: ‘SpaceX really is thinking big with Starship. This is the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built.
‘But its ambition goes way beyond its gargantuan size: it is hoped that the rocket will herald a new era of deep space exploration, unlocking the potential for humans to visit other planets.
‘This program could be the launchpad for hugely exciting scientific research.
‘I’m convinced that collaboration with commercial operators like SpaceX is vital for pushing the boundaries and enabling this new era of deep space exploration.’
No spaceship is currently capable of sending humans to the Red Planet — but all that could change with the development of Starship.
Its creation is part of Musk’s grander vision of making us a ‘multi-planetary species’, first by starting a human colony on Mars and even getting to the point of building cities.
That may seem ambitious, but the tech supremo’s long-term objective for Starship is for it to possibly carry people to destinations in the ‘greater Solar System’, including gas giants such as Jupiter or one of its possibly-habitable moons.
The thinking is that if there were ever a global apocalypse on Earth, the human race would have a better chance of survival if people lived on different worlds in our solar system.
Starship will be capable of carrying up to 100 people to the Red Planet on a journey that is 250 times further than the moon and would take around nine months each way.
Musk and SpaceX have remained tight-lipped about a lot of the details regarding Starship, including images of what the inside will look like, but the 51-year-old has previously said he is looking to install around 40 cabins in the payload area near the front of the upper stage.
Powerful: Musk’s vehicle packs 16 million pounds (70 Meganewtons) of thrust, which is almost double that of the other new generation rocket created by NASA and known as the Space Launch System (SLS)
‘You could conceivably have five or six people per cabin, if you really wanted to crowd people in,’ the Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter boss added.
‘But I think mostly we would expect to see two or three people per cabin, and so nominally about 100 people per flight to Mars.’
The Martian surface is not the only destination for Starship, however.
In April 2021, NASA announced that it had selected SpaceX’s next-generation vehicle as the first crewed lunar lander for its Artemis III mission — due to put the first woman and first person of color on the moon in 2025.
The Starship HLS – or Starship Human Landing System – will include SpaceX’s Raptor engines, while also pulling inspiration from the Falcon and Dragon vehicles’ designs.
It will feature a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moonwalks.
However, 2025 won’t be the Starship HLS’ first moon landing. That’s because NASA wants the vehicle to perform an uncrewed test touchdown before it returns human boots to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.
The other uses for Starship are to deposit satellites into low-Earth orbit and possibly carry out space tourism trips.
Excitement: The rocket ship that could one day power humans to Mars is set to make its maiden orbital flight today. Elon Musk’s Starship is pictured on the launchpad here
Despite the huge excitement, Musk has warned people to temper their expectations – last month he claimed there was a 50 per cent chance his spacecraft could explode during the launch
If the first orbital launch attempt is unsuccessful, Musk went on to add that SpaceX is building several more Starship rockets and that overall he believes there is an 80 percent chance one of them will reach orbit before the end of the year
Musk has already promised a trip around the moon to the Japanese online retail billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who announced that a crew of eight artists would be joining him for the dearMoon mission at the end of last year.
It is currently scheduled for sometime this year, but with Starship not yet having completed a successful orbital launch, that date seems poised to slip.
Musk has previously estimated the total development cost of the Starship project to be between $2 billion (£1.6 billion) and $10 billion (£8 billion).
He later said it would probably be ‘closer to two or three [billion] than it is to 10.’
The booster element alone has been developed over the years, from the Falcon 1 which was retired in 2009 to the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and now Super Heavy.
Take a trip to the Red Planet: Last week Musk’s SpaceX revealed a new animation that provides a glimpse into how he plans to reach Mars using the $3 billion (£2.4 billion) Starship
Rather than being the first human trip to the Red Planet, it becomes clear that the animation is depicting a vision many years in the future where multiple Starship vehicles come and go via several landing pads
Building cities on other worlds: A dome-shaped human settlement is shown on Mars in the clip
The idea for the Super Heavy dates back to November 2005, when Musk first discussed his desire to create a rocket he then termed BFR or Big F***ing rocket.
Since then, other SpaceX launch vehicles have followed, all building up to the development of the Super Heavy.
In January, Starship and its accompanying craft achieved a major milestone after being fuelled up and fully stacked for the first time ever in what is known as a ‘wet dress rehearsal’.
Altogether, the spaceship towers 395ft (120m), making it the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built.
It is capable of generating almost double the lift-off thrust of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) mega moon rocket that sent an empty capsule to the moon and back late last year.
This is what will be used to launch the Orion spacecraft into orbit for the human-crewed Artemis II in 2024, as well as the proposed moon-landing mission Artemis III the year after.
The latter will see the first woman and first person of color walk on the lunar surface, more than 50 years after humans last landed on the moon when Apollo 17 touched down in 1972.
HOW WILL STARSHIP WORK, IS IT THE MOST POWERFUL ROCKET EVER AND WHERE WILL IT LAUNCH FROM?
How Starship works
Starship aims to be SpaceX’s first fully-reusable rocket, which is part of the reason why the flight costs for Musk’s vehicle could end up 200 times cheaper per launch than most other rockets.
So how will it work?
When it is ready to land on Earth, Starship will initially re-enter the atmosphere at a 60-degree angle, before ‘belly-flopping’ to the ground in a horizontal position.
This type of return uses our planet’s atmosphere to slow the vehicle’s descent but makes it unstable.
Starship aims to be SpaceX’s first fully-reusable rocket, which is part of the reason why the flight costs for Musk’s vehicle could end up 200 times cheaper per launch than most other rockets
It is for this reason that Starship will use four steel landing flaps, positioned near the front and rear of the vehicle, to control its descent, working in a similar way to how a skydiver uses their arms and legs to control a free-fall.
As Starship approaches the ground, it flips back into a vertical position and then uses its Raptor engines as retro-rockets to guide it down for a safe landing.
In November 2019, Musk claimed a Starship launch could cost just $2 million (£1.8 million) each time, thanks to efficiency savings that come from reusing a rocket.
By comparison, NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is estimated to cost an eye-watering $4.1 billion (£3.3 billion) per launch.
Where will Starship launch from?
Starship is expected to launch from the Starbase facility in Texas, close to the town of Boca Chica.
However, SpaceX will first need a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration before it can blast off.
Musk has also previously said that the ship could lift off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which is currently used by SpaceX for its Falcon series of rockets.
This was the launchpad that Apollo 11 blasted off from for its legendary mission to the moon in July 1969.
Is it the biggest rocket ever?
Yes. And not only that, it is also the most powerful.
Musk’s vehicle packs 16 million pounds (70 Meganewtons) of thrust, which is almost double that of the other new generation rocket created by NASA and known as the SLS.
You might remember SLS for successfully delivering the Orion spacecraft to orbit last November as part of the Artemis I mission that saw it fly around the moon and back.
Starship is 395ft (120m) tall, with the ship itself measuring 164ft (49m) and the booster 230ft (70m).
No surprise, but SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket and the accompanying Starship spacecraft are, well, heavy.
The whole thing comes in at 11 million pounds (5 million kg) when fuelled.
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-11993945/Elon-Musks-Starship-set-launch-today-frozen-valve-thwarted-earlier-attempt.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270