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Watch all 5 times SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded in a giant fireball

starship prototype explosions collage spacex boca chica spadreThree previous explosions of Starship prototypes.

Gene Blevins/Reuters; SPadre.com

  • SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded above Texas on its first attempted orbital launch.
  • But this isn’t Starship’s first explosion. Four other prototypes have blown up on smaller flights.
  • Even Elon Musk anticipated this, previously hinting that there was a 50% chance it would explode.

SpaceX’s Starship rocket — which is supposed to realize Elon Musk’s dream of building a human settlement on Mars — exploded into a giant fireball on Thursday, when it launched toward orbit for the first time.

The space exploration company launched Starship from its base in Boca Chica, Texas. This wasn’t the first time SpaceX has launched one of its Starship rockets, but it was the first time it launched both Starship and its Super Heavy booster together, in an attempt to reach orbit.

image of spaceship taking off from launchpadThe Starship blasted off from Texas this morning, but exploded less than 3 minutes later.

PATRICK T. FALLON/Getty Images

But about 3 minutes after liftoff, the booster failed to separate from the spaceship, and the mega-rocket tumbled back toward Earth and exploded in flames — an outcome that Musk himself had anticipated.

Watch the rocket’s nail-biting final minutes in the video below:

“I think it’s got, I don’t know, hopefully about a 50% chance of reaching orbit,” Musk said in an interview at the Morgan Stanley Conference in March. “I’m not saying it will get to orbit, but I am guaranteeing excitement,” he said, adding, “Won’t be boring!”

SpaceX is no stranger to exploding Starships. The company first tested the spaceship’s unprecedented ability to launch and land itself in 2020, and four of the early prototypes flew into the Texas skies and exploded, crashed to the ground in a fireball, or exploded in flames after landing.

There’s spectacular video footage of each incident. Here’s the first one:

In that first test flight, on December 9, 2020, a Starship prototype called Starship serial no. 8, or SN8, soared about 7 miles above SpaceX’s Texas facilities. It hovered at the peak of its flight for about 30 seconds, then cut its engine and belly-flopped toward the ground.

The rocket reignited its engines in an attempt to quickly turn itself upright. But it wasn’t powerful enough, and it slammed into the concrete landing pad, crumpling and exploding.

The next prototype, SN9, met a similar fate just a few months later on February 2, 2021. This time, though, it seemed that one engine was faulty, causing the ship to lean to its other side and hit a concrete pad at an angle, exploding its remaining fuel reserves.

The third prototype, SN10, landed in one piece on March 3, 2021. But a fire persisted around the rocket’s skirt. About 10 minutes after landing, an explosion thrust the rocket back into the air and slammed it back to the ground.

Later that month, on March 30, SpaceX’s fourth attempt, SN11, also blew up, raining down debris. SpaceX cut out its broadcast before that happened, but a live feed from NASASpaceflight showed debris falling around the foggy pad.

—IndSamachar News (@Indsamachar) March 30, 2021

SpaceX finally landed its fifth prototype with no explosions on May 5, 2021.

Now the company may have to undergo a similar process of trial-and-error with Starship atop its Super Heavy booster. There could be more explosions to come before the historic launch system reaches space.

Read the original article on Business Insider