SpaceX launched the mega-rocket Starship on Saturday in another successful step toward private-manned flight to the Moon and Mars.
The rocket lost its booster after explosions rocked the spacecraft minutes into its early morning flight from South Texas. The ship’s self-destruct system blew it up over the Gulf of Mexico, according to SpaceX officials shortly after the test flight.
But the demo was a successful test of the innovative new private mega-rocket spaceship. It lasted eight minutes, around twice as long as an earlier test made in April.
Starship liftoff through successful hot-stage separation pic.twitter.com/L2bH1pJZ2s
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 18, 2023
“The real topping on the cake today, that successful liftoff,” said SpaceX commentator John Insprucker, noting that unlike in the earlier test, all 33 of Starship’s booster engines fired.
Starship watcher Kate Tice also noted the information from this test flight will help SpaceX get ready for the next one: “We got so much data, and that will all help us to improve for our next flight.”
Standing nearly 400 feet tall, Starship is the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. It will eventually be tasked by NASA with taking astronauts and equipment to the Moon and, eventually, Mars.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson congratulated SpaceX on its successful second launch test Saturday morning. In a post on X, Nelson said, “Spaceflight is a bold adventure demanding a can-do spirit and daring innovation.”
Congrats to the teams who made progress on today’s flight test.
Spaceflight is a bold adventure demanding a can-do spirit and daring innovation. Today’s test is an opportunity to learn—then fly again.
— Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) November 18, 2023
If all goes according to plan, SpaceX’s Spaceship will bring the Artemis mission crew to the lunar surface in late 2025.
The last manned flight to the Moon’s surface was NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972. We haven’t been back since. According to NASA administrators, “Astronauts say the reasons why are budgetary and political, not scientific or technical.”
The government’s budgetary issues stalled the successful Moon program for decades since the 1970s, when the economy went through unprecedented government growth and stagflation — a period of high prices and low economic growth.