SpaceX shared incredible photos from the second test flight of its Starship megarocket this weekend.
Spatialship — the largest and most powerful rocket ever built — took off early Saturday morning (Nov. 18) from SpaceX’s Starbase facility near Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. The rocket’s Super Heavy first stage is powered by 33 Raptor engines, which the photos capture igniting for liftoff.
This second test flight marked a major milestone for EspaceXthe two-stage rocket making it fly further than when it was launched first test in April. While the Super Heavy booster and the Starship upper stage successfully separated after liftoff, the booster exploded shortly afterward and the upper stage exploded approximately eight minutes into the flight.
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The stunning test flight photos include an aerial view, which looks down the nose of the Starship with clouds of smoke and glowing golden flames engulfing the base of the rocket as it moves away from its launch pad. launch.
“The world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, powered by 33 Raptor engines, taking off from Starbase”, SpaceX said in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) Sunday, November 19.
The ship took off at 8:00 a.m. EDT (1:00 p.m. GMT; 7:00 a.m. Texas local time) Saturday, with the Super Heavy successfully igniting its 33 Raptors. This alone is a significant milestone, given that a handful of engines failed in early April.
SpaceX’s photos capture an incredibly detailed view of all of Starship’s engines, clustered at the rocket’s base. The engines ignited in unison with a trail of flames that propelled the vehicle into space.
About two and a half minutes after liftoff, the two stages separated, with the Starship’s upper stage operating its own six engines. The vehicle then climbed to an altitude of approximately 91 miles (148 kilometers) above Earth — well beyond 100 km in height space limit – before its signal is lost.
SpaceX is investigating what caused the Starship and Super Heavy to explode on Saturday, as part of an investigation overseen by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The results of this investigation will inform preparations for the next Starship test flight, which SpaceX is eager to conduct.