BOCA CHICA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — SpaceX’s giant new rocket blasted off on its first test flight Thursday from Boca Chica Beach, but failed minutes after rising from the launch pad.
SpaceX later said multiple engines on the 33-engine booster were not firing as the rocket ascended, causing it to lose altitude and begin to tumble. The rocket was intentionally destroyed by its self-destruct system, exploding and plummeting into the water.
Elon Musk’s company was aiming to send the nearly 400-foot Starship rocket on a round-the-world trip from the southern tip of Texas. It carried no people or satellites; both the booster and spacecraft on top were to be ditched into the Gulf of Mexico.
After the blast, SpaceX posted on Twitter, “As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation.”
“With a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and today’s test will help us improve Starship’s reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multi-planetary.”
Musk said on Twitter the testing will continue, “Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship! Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months.”
Thousands of spectators watched from South Padre Island, Highway 48, Port Isabel and the surrounding areas of the Laguna Madre. During the launches the Boca Chica Beach launch site, is off-limits to visitors.
SpaceX hope the flight would last 1 1/2-hour as it orbited the earth, but instead the flight lasted just four minutes.
The aerospace company said the rock did reach a maximum speed of about 1,300 mph and as high as 24 miles, before going sideways and dropping into the gulf.
SpaceX’s first try to launch the rocket was called off Monday because of a frozen valve in the rocket during fueling.
The launch was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration on April 14 when it issued SpaceX a vehicle operator license to launch the Starship vehicle from Boca Chica Beach in southern Cameron County, Texas.
“After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration, and financial responsibility requirements. The license is valid for five years,” the FAA statement read.
All systems were a go for Monday’s launch until reports from SpaceX of a frozen pressure valve halted the first launch attempt of the fully stacked vehicle.
The flight was the company’s first attempt at launching its stacked Starship, a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.