SpaceX Starship Rocket Explodes Shortly After Take Off

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The world’s most powerful rocket has blasted off from Texas – before it exploded. It had gotten four minutes into the unmanned test flight – which Space X has still declared a success.

It hopes one day to use the Starship to take people to Mars.

After a cancelled launch earlier this week, the 120-metre rocket system took off at 8.33am local time (2.33pm) today.

It appeared that the two sections of the rocket system – the booster and cruise vessel – were unable to separate properly after take off, possibly causing the spacecraft to fail.

It was not immediately clear whether the rocket exploded spontaneously or if the Flight Termination System  failsafe was activated.

SpaceX had previously cautioned that the chances of success were low and that the aim of the test flight was to gather data, regardless of whether the full mission was achieved. Employees at SpaceX cheered even after the rocket disintegrated.

As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation,” SpaceX said in a statement on Twitter, referring to the explosion.

Almost as long as three passenger jets, the mammoth spacecraft stands 10 metres taller than the Saturn V rocket that sent humans to the moon in 1969.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, gained the necessary approval last week from the Federal Aviation Administration for the launch to go ahead.

SpaceX has a record of showing a willingness to have test flights explode, with Musk saying the private venture benefits from understanding what goes wrong.

Musk said he developed Starship, previously named the BFR (heavily hinted to mean Big Fucking Rocket), so that humans can eventually become an interplanetary species. To do this, he intends to begin the colonisation of Mars, which he said is needed to preserve humanity in case a planet-destroying event, such as nuclear war or an asteroid strike, wipes out life on Earth.