SpaceX has launched the biggest and most powerful rocket ever made in a landmark test – but it exploded just minutes later.
Three days after an inaugural flight was scrapped due to a last-minute glitch, Starship took off from Boca Chica in southern Texas as thousands of spectators watched on nearby.
But the rocket system failed to separate as planned, and exploded less than four minutes into its flight.
SpaceX said Starship experienced a “rapid, unscheduled disassembly before stage separation”.
SpaceX officials still declared the ambitious mission a success, as it marked the first time Starship and its massive booster rocket had taken to the skies.
Company boss Elon Musk congratulated the team on an “exciting test launch”.
Musk had sought to keep expectations in check beforehand, saying it had a 50% of reaching orbit at the first try.
But more launches are planned, and he believes there’s an 80% chance of success before the end of the year.
“Learned a lot for the next test launch in a few months,” Musk tweeted after Thursday’s test.