First SpaceX Starship Launch Triggers ‘Flight Termination System’ [VIDEO]
- SpaceX tested the reusable Starship and Super Heavy rocket, reaching a 39 km altitude.
- Despite engine failures and an explosion, the test was considered successful.
- Insights gained will improve future flights for crewed missions and Starlink launches.
SpaceX launched its first Starship flight test on early Thursday morning, sending the world’s largest and most powerful rocket system into the skies. The company is behind the Starlink low-Earth satellite internet offering that’s available in Canada and globally.
Starship consists of the reusable Starship spacecraft stacked on top of the similarly reusable Super Heavy rocket, standing 40 storeys tall or 120 metres high, and 9 metres in diameter.
Powered by 33 Raptor engines, Super Heavy lifted off with Starship at 8:33am CT from Starbase in South Texas.
SpaceX made it clear leading up to the launch success would be deemed by Starship just lifting off the orbital launch pad. But the rocket system did more than that, rising up 39 kilometres over the Gulf of Mexico, the highest of any Starship tests ever.
With some of the Raptor engines failing during the flight, Starship lost altitude and started to tumble and fly out of control. SpaceX confirmed its flight termination system was executed on both Starship and Super Heavy, resulting in an explosion in the skies.
The plan was for Super Heavy to separate from Starship, then come back to land in the Gulf of Mexico, but that flight path was deemed a stretch for this first flight test. Eventually, Super Heavy and Starship will land on their own vertically and be caught by the world’s largest catch tower and its robotic arms.
“With a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and we learned a tremendous amount about the vehicle and ground systems today that will help us improve on future flights of Starship,” said SpaceX.
Slow mo video of liftoff from the tower pic.twitter.com/tbf1aAKsgD
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 20, 2023
As this was the first test flight, Super Heavy was set to land in the ocean, while Starship was pegged to fly in space and then water land off the island of Kauai in Hawaii.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said, “Congrats SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!” Musk tweeted. “Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.”
When more Starship test launches are complete, the final spacecraft will be able to take on a crew, while also send up larger next-generation Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit.
Check out the first Starship launch below—the rocket system is set to launch NASA astronauts back to the moon and ultimately take humans eventually to Mars.
During the live video of the launch, up to 1.7 million people were viewing it live on YouTube. The video below has since racked up 8.8 million views as of writing and is trending #1 on YouTube: