SpaceX’s gargantuan Super Heavy-Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, blasted off on its second test flight Saturday, and while the initial stages of the mission went smoothly, the first stage broke apart moments after separation from the Starship upper stage. The Starship, in turn, blew itself up as it neared space.
Viewed as a successful learning experience by SpaceX, it was the second failure in a row to get the Starship upper stage into space, a frustrating disappointment for Elon Musk’s rocket company and a potentially major setback for NASA, which is counting on the Starship to carry Artemis astronauts to the surface of the moon in the next few years.
While SpaceX’s philosophy is to fly as soon as possible and learn from any mistakes, NASA will require a long string of successful missions before the agency will deem it safe to put astronauts aboard. SpaceX will no doubt resolve the issues that derailed Saturday’s flight, but every delay poses a threat to NASA’s moon landing timeline.
Shattering the morning calm at SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site on the Texas Gulf Coast, the Super Heavy’s 33 methane-burning Raptor engines ignited with a torrent of…
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