Pic of the Week: Starship Explodes Mid-Air

Image (Credit): Starship explosion after launch on April 20, 2023. (Rueters)

This week’s image is from today’s launch of the SpaceX Starship. The rocket experienced engine troubles and exploded about four minutes following the launch after reaching a height of 25 miles. The goal of this mission was to reach at least 90 miles.

SpaceX had this to say about the launch:

At 8:33 a.m. CT, Starship successfully lifted off from the orbital launch pad for the first time. The vehicle cleared the pad and beach as Starship climbed to an apogee of ~39 km over the Gulf of Mexico – the highest of any Starship to-date. The vehicle experienced multiple engines out during the flight test, lost altitude, and began to tumble. The flight termination system was commanded on both the booster and ship. As is standard procedure, the pad and surrounding area was cleared well in advance of the test, and we expect the road and beach near the pad to remain closed until tomorrow.

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.