SpaceX Starship rocket explodes in space during its second test flight

SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded in space a few minutes after liftoff during its second test flight on Saturday, November 18, 2023.

Starship's successful liftoff during its second test flight
Starship’s successful liftoff during its second test flight on Saturday, November 18, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX via Twitter)

No one was harmed or killed during the second test flight of the Starship, as it was an uncrewed flight.

Starship: The world’s most powerful rocket

Starship is the world’s most powerful and tallest rocket ever built. It is a two-stage, fully reusable rocket that will be used to carry astronauts on the interplanetary mission. It is a 121-meter (397-foot) tall rocket that is capable of carrying up to 150 metric tons of payload.

The upper stage (second stage) of Starship is referred as Starship spacecraft or simply “the Ship”.

The lower stage (first stage) of Starship is referred as the Super Heavy booster rocket.

Second test flight of Starship: Liftoff

The second test flight of Starship successfully lifted off from Starbase in Texas at about 7 a.m. local time (13:00 UTC) with the help of 33 Raptor engines attached to the Super Heavy booster rocket.

Second test flight of Starship: Stage separation

The two stages of the Starship rocket separated successfully through the hot-staging method at an altitude of 75 kilometers, about 2 minutes and 50 seconds after the liftoff.

Second test flight of Starship: Explosion of the Super Heavy booster rocket

The lower stage of the Starship, the Super Heavy booster rocket exploded in space at an altitude of 90 kilometers, about 3 minutes 20 seconds after the liftoff.

SpaceX tweeted it as “The booster experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly shortly after stage separation while Starship’s engines fired for several minutes on its way to space.”

— Liftoff, stage separation, explosion of the booster rocket and lost control of the Starship spacecraft.

Second test flight of Starship: Lost contact with the Starship spacecraft

The mission control room lost signal with the upper stage of the Starship, the Starship spacecraft at an altitude of 148 kilometers, about 9 minutes 11 seconds after the liftoff.

“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 multiplanetary” SpaceX wrote about the Starship’s second test flight.

Second test flight of Starship: Self-destruction mode on

After lost contact, the mission control room successfully turned on the self-destruction mode of the onboard computer of the Starship spacecraft and self-destructed itself over the Atlantic Ocean near Africa.

Starship’s first test flight was a total disaster

— Starship’s first test flight

The first test flight of Starship lifted off on April 20, 2023. At an altitude of 39 kilometers, about 3 minutes and 20 seconds after the liftoff, it began tumbling and lost altitude due to multiple engine failures. That’s why it has been destroyed (both the booster rocket and the Starship spacecraft) by enabling self-destruction mode before the stage separation.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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