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Starship prototype explodes shortly after liftoff during test flight led by Elon Musk

SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft exploded during an uncrewed test flight in South Texas on Thursday. The flight test marked the first for Starship mounted atop the company’s new Super Heavy rocket, which SpaceX has described as the most powerful launch vehicle on Earth. While the two-stage rocket ship reached a height of nearly 25 miles, it did not achieve all of its objectives, including soaring into space and then returning to Earth.

SpaceX officials were heartened by the outcome, though the spacecraft experienced multiple engine failures during ascent, lost altitude, and began tumbling before the flight termination system was commanded on both the booster and the ship. The plan was for the spacecraft to re-enter the atmosphere and plunge into the Pacific near Hawaii, but it exploded during the ascent.

Despite the setback, NASA chief Bill Nelson congratulated SpaceX on Twitter, while Elon Musk said on Twitter that the company had learned a lot and that the next test launch would take place in a few months.

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