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SpaceX’s Starship explodes in second flight test, but it’s not a complete failure. here’s why

SpaceX launched the second integrated test flight of its largest and most powerful rocket, Starship, on November 19, 2023. While the launch vehicle exploded within minutes of launch, it was not a complete failure, but a partial success. This is because the Starship reached space by climbing to an altitude of about 150 kilometers (the Kármán line, where space begins, is 100 kilometers above Earth).

Additionally, according to SpaceX, Starship successfully fired all 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy booster, and performed a successful stage separation.

The fully integrated Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket together are called Starship. Starship is not only the largest launch vehicle from Elon Musk’s aerospace firm, but also the world’s largest and most powerful rocket.

SpaceX launched the first orbital test flight of Starship on April 20, 2023, from Starbase in Texas. However, the starship exploded just minutes after launch.

According to SpaceX, during the first integrated test flight, Starship experienced rapid undetermined separation before stage separation.

However, as part of the second integrated test flight, a successful stage separation occurred.

This means that SpaceX corrected many of the mistakes that resulted in Starship exploding during the first test flight.

While during the first test flight, the Super Heavy booster experienced an intense unscheduled separation before stage separation, as part of the second test flight, the booster experienced an intense unscheduled separation immediately after stage separation. However, Starship’s engines continued to run for several minutes as the spacecraft headed toward space.

SpaceX said the second integrated test flight will help the aerospace firm improve the reliability of Starship as the company aims to make life easier for multiplanets.

The Starship system represents a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

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