UPDATE: SpaceX’s Massive Starship Rocket Explodes Shortly After Launch – on Purpose

SpaceX was able to successfully launch their massive Starship rocket early Thursday, but the huge vessel exploded in midair shortly after takeoff.

SpaceX Starship explode launch
UPDATE: 04/21/2023

SpaceX has confirmed that the massive Starship rocket that blew up shortly after launch yesterday was intentionally destroyed.

Late yesterday, they released a statement explaining what happened: “Starship gave us quite a show during today’s first flight test of a fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket from Starbase in Texas.

At 8:33 a.m. CT, Starship successfully lifted off from the orbital launch pad for the first time. The vehicle cleared the pad and beach as Starship climbed to an apogee of ~39 km over the Gulf of Mexico – the highest of any Starship to-date. The vehicle experienced multiple engines out during the flight test, lost altitude, and began to tumble.”

The statement continues, “The flight termination system was commanded on both the booster and ship. As is standard procedure, the pad and surrounding area was cleared well in advance of the test, and we expect the road and beach near the pad to remain closed until tomorrow.”

Even though the vessel was destroyed, the team was able to gather and enormous amount of information that will help them when they return to the launch pad with a new try in a few months.

The statement concludes, “With a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and we learned a tremendous amount about the vehicle and ground systems today that will help us improve on future flights of Starship.

Thank you to our customers, Cameron County, and the wider community for the continued support and encouragement. And congratulations to the entire SpaceX team on an exciting first flight test of Starship!”


SpaceX today launched their massive Starship rocket, the largest rocket ever, in the hopes of developing a vessel large enough to carry huge cargo payloads and people to distant destinations like Mars.

Unfortunately, things did not end well.

Starship took off at 9:28AM and successfully cleared the launch pad.

But it exploded shortly after launch in midair.

In a video following the ship’s launch, onlookers can be heard cheering the successful takeoff, then subsiding to murmurs as the ship successfully flew for a few minutes before preparing for stage separation. Then the same audience breaks into cheers and jeers as the ship explodes.

Taking the moment in stride, SpaceX cheekily tweeted, “As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation.”

They added, “Teams will continue to review data and work toward our next flight test.”

“With a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and today’s test will help us improve Starship’s reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multi-planetary.”

And they took a moment to take the team who worked so hard to get to that moment, tweeting, “Congratulations to the entire SpaceX team on an exciting first integrated flight test of Starship!”

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk took a moment to offer congratulations to the team as well, before promising another test launch in a few months.