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Giant unmanned SpaceX rocket launches, explodes

SpaceX's Starship launches from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, Thursday, April 20, 2023. Associated Press/Photo by Eric Gay

Giant unmanned SpaceX rocket launches, explodes

Spacecraft manufacturing company SpaceX on Thursday morning launched its Super Heavy booster and Starship spacecraft for the first time from Boca Chica Beach, Texas. The rocket exploded after the booster failed to separate from the rocket roughly four minutes after liftoff. The booster and rocket measured 394 feet tall when stacked and the booster was capable of generating 16.7 million pounds of thrust, more than double the 7.6 million pounds generated by NASA’s Saturn V rocket. A previous launch attempt on Monday was called off after a pressure valve failed to operate correctly.

What’s next for Starship? SpaceX plans to continue testing the rocket and booster system with the goal of one day using the spacecraft to transport up to 100 people into space. NASA has awarded SpaceX contracts to use Starship as part of the Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts back on the moon.

Dig deeper: Listen to Paul Butler and Myrna Brown’s report on The World and Everything in It podcast about the next phase of American space exploration.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.

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