SpaceX has launched a fully stacked variant of Starship, including the upper stage and the Super Heavy booster, for the first time. The combined launch vehicle is nearly 120 metres in height, and today’s launch included a successful lift-off and ascent to and through the critical Max Q period, which is the point in the launch when the vehicle is under the most stress.
Until the point where the first stage was supposed to separate from the upper stage, the test of an orbital rocket’s maiden flight proceeded remarkably smoothly. At that time, the first stage continued to discharge its engines, and the upper stage did not separate or ignite its own engines as planned. On their webcast, SpaceX also mentioned that it appeared as though three of the Raptor engines that power the booster may not have ignited, but this did not appear to impair the initial launch and ascent.
This should unquestionably be regarded as a success: Elon Musk, the pioneer of SpaceX, had previously stated that there was a substantial possibility that Starship would not even launch on its first attempt. In a live broadcast, SpaceX’s Kate Tice stated that the team would consider anything other than a successful launch a success in this instance, with the primary objective of the flight being to collect crucial data about the vehicle in order to increase its odds of success for future orbital flights. Today’s voyage concluded with both stages engulfed in a massive explosion, destroying the entire vehicle. SpaceX stated that today’s flight path was deliberately set over human-free land and water to ensure safety in the event of falling debris.
SpaceX stated it would provide additional information about the test flight and its outcomes as it investigates what happened during the launch.