SpaceX’s Starship test launch has an explosive ending


The SpaceX headquarters located in Hawthorne, California. Picture by Steve Jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Bryan Zuniga, El Rodeo Staff Writer

On April 20, SpaceX launched its new rocket, Starship. Its launch ended abruptly after it exploded three minutes after takeoff. There was no crew onboard as it was just a test flight. 


Despite its explosive ending, SpaceX says that the test was a success. Starship is the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. It is built to carry large amounts of cargo into space. It is planned to land astronauts to the moon in NASA’s Artemis program and, eventually, Mars. The rocket even lifting off is an important and momentous milestone that will affect future space exploration and travel. It is also much cheaper to launch than NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS. This makes it more likely that launches will become more frequent.


The explosion of the rocket, however, puts some doubt on whether this can be considered a success. The rocket exploded three minutes after launch, never even reaching space. This by itself may be enough for many to consider this test to be a failure. However, the explosion of the rocket may lead to more issues than just the loss of a rocket for SpaceX.


The explosion could lead to damage to the surrounding area. When the rocket exploded, it released debris and large amounts of sand- and ash-like particulate matter. The debris could fall and create physical damage. The particulate matter, on the other hand, does less visible damage.


Instead, it could affect the nearby environment and the health of animals and people. The Federal Aviation Administration, or the FAA, has momentarily halted SpaceX’s launch program in order to investigate the incident. This is normal as an investigation occurs when an incident like this happens. This investigation is to see if, and how much the dust and debris from the explosion affected the nearby environment.


While the launch showed that the Starship rocket has promise, the early explosion made many lose some confidence. Hopefully, the rocket continues to be improved upon as more tests are held. Eventually, it may end up being the rocket that takes humanity to Mars. For now, there is a lot of work to be done in order to avoid another incident.