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SpaceX Launches Its Giant New Rocket But a Pair of Explosions Ends the Second Test Flight

November 18, 2023

SpaceX launched its mega rocket Starship on Saturday, but lost the booster and then the spacecraft minutes into the test flight.

The booster had sent the rocketship toward space, but communication was lost eight minutes after liftoff from South Texas and SpaceX declared that the vehicle had failed.

The trouble cropped up as the ship’s engines were almost done firing to put it on an around-the-world path. Minutes earlier, the booster exploded, but not until its job was done, putting the ship on a course toward space.

At 400 feet, Starship is the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built.

The first test flight in April ended in an explosion soon after liftoff.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

SpaceX’s giant new rocket blasted off from South Texas on a test flight Saturday, seven months after the first try ended in an explosion.

SpaceX’s mega rocket Starship breaks the sound barrier as it launches for a test flight from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The 397-foot (121-meter) Starship rocket thundered into the sky and arced out over the Gulf of Mexico. The goal was to separate the spaceship from its booster and send it into space.

SpaceX aimed for an altitude of 150 miles (240 kilometers), just high enough to send the bullet-shaped spacecraft around the globe before ditching into the Pacific near Hawaii about 1 1/2 hours after liftoff, short of a full orbit.

Starship is the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. Its first flight in April lasted four minutes, with the wreckage crashing into the gulf. Since then, Elon Musk’s company has made dozens of improvements to the booster and its 33 engines as well as the launch pad.

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By MARCIA DUNN AP Aerospace Writer

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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