Slated to be the mode of transportation that will put humans on the surface of Mars, Starship, SpaceX's newest rocket, maybe taking to the skies again for its second orbital launch attempt sooner than you might think.
SpaceX's Starship launch vehicle is the world's biggest and most powerful rocket, with the company only recently conducting the 394-foot-tall rocket's very first orbital test launch. Starship took to the skies on April 20, with its 33 Raptor engines generating a stunning 16.5 million pounds of thrust, which pushed the behemoth rocket above its launch tower and to an altitude of 24 miles before it was intentionally blown up by SpaceX engineers. SpaceX's objective was to see Starship's upper stage separate from its lower booster stage, which would send its upper stage on a quick journey around Earth that would result in a splashdown near Hawaii.
Unfortunately, SpaceX's first orbital test didn't go as planned as Super Heavy, Starship's lower stage booster failed to separate from its upper stage, causing the entire rocket to start tumbling and lose altitude. The malfunction made the mission objective impossible, and SpaceX employees were forced into initiating Starship's rapid disassembly protocol. Explode the rocket mid-air. Despite the failure to reach the objective, both SpaceX and company CEO Elon Musk celebrated the launch as the rocket achieved much more than they expected, with many predicting that Starship wouldn't even be able to get off the launch pad.
In interviews prior to Starship's launch, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said there was approximately a 50/50 chance that Starship would explode during its first orbital test flight. These predictions from Musk months prior to the launch were then backed up by a statement in Musk's Twitter Spaces, where he said, "Basically, the outcome was roughly sort of what I expected, and maybe slightly exceeded my expectations."
Starship's launch has caused some concern as the exploding rocket decimated SpaceX's launch pad, causing a massive crater and debris to be thrown around at high speeds. Additionally, a large dust cloud was created, which rained down on the surrounding region. Musk added these debris are of no concern as they are "basically sand and rock, so it's not toxic". As for the dust storm, Musk says, "it's just like a sandstorm. But we don't want to do that again."
Musk went on to add that SpaceX is taking the appropriate measures to make sure Starship's second orbital launch attempt doesn't cause the same level of destruction as its first. As for when the second launch attempt will occur, Musk says the new launch pad and Starship vehicle should be ready to launch in six to eight weeks. The goal for the second orbital launch will be the same as the first, Starship separating from Super Heavy to go on a journey around Earth.