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Videos: Elon Musk’s Starship rocket explodes after launch

Elon Musk. (Suzanne Cordeiro/For the Austin American-Statesman/TNS)
April 20, 2023

The Starship rocket built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX exploded after launching for a test flight Thursday morning, days after a technical problem blocked an initial launch attempt.

Footage of the moment was posted on social media.

No crew was on board the rocket, CNN reported. The 400-foot-tall rocket is the tallest and most powerful ever built, designed to be entirely reusable and carry cargo into orbit.

The rocket launched from SpaceX’s Starbase in the southern tip of Texas. It started spinning in the air after successfully lifting off, and some of the 33 engines on the booster appeared not to ignite, NBC News reported. A few minutes after liftoff, the rocket exploded over the Gulf of Mexico.

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SpaceX said on Twitter the rocket “experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation.” The company said the test “will help us improve Starship’s reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multi-planetary.”

Musk on Twitter called the launch “exciting,” adding: “Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.”

Before the test flight, Musk said that if Starship flies “far enough away from the launchpad before something goes wrong, then I think I would consider that to be a success,” the Washington Post reported.

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SpaceX also posted footage of the liftoff prior to the explosion.

The first attempt to launch the rocket was canceled on Monday after an issue with a stuck valve required to pressurize the first-stage booster, as reported by The Associated Press.

Thursday’s launch was delayed 40 seconds prior to liftoff as teams worked on a pressurization issue, the Washington Post reported.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.