SpaceX's Starship did not disappoint on its first test flight.
The 394-foot-tall (120 meters) Starship, the world's biggest and most powerful rocket, took off from SpaceX's Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas at 9:33 a.m. EDT (1333 GMT; 8:33 a.m. local Texas time) on April 20, 2023. Powered by 33 Raptor engines, Starship roared through the morning sky to the delight of spectators gathered on nearby South Padre Island.
Starship didn't fly for long, however. The massive stainless steel vehicle apparently encountered an issue separating from its Super Heavy rocket booster a few minutes into its flight. After tumbling through the air, the huge rocket exploded in what SpaceX calls a "rapid unscheduled disassembly" just under four minutes after launch.
Nevertheless, SpaceX has hailed the test flight as a success. "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," the company wrote on Twitter following the launch.
Relive the explosive first Starship test flight with these incredible images below.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk congratulated the company following the launch on Twitter, adding that another Starship launch will follow in a few months.
Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship!Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months. pic.twitter.com/gswdFut1dKApril 20, 2023
Starship: Pointy end down, flamey end up! pic.twitter.com/oy5qs2eNKLApril 20, 2023
NASA Spaceflight photographer Max Evans caught this shot of Starship shortly after liftoff.
LIFTOFF OF STARSHIP SUPERHEAVY pic.twitter.com/dGIZAR0zuIApril 20, 2023
Photographer Trevor Mahlmann managed to frame Starship straight on in the image below that drives home the sheer size and power of the plume coming from Super Heavy's 33 Raptor engines.
Straight on view of Starship + Super Heavy launching this morning from South Texas🚀 @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/19NrEO6QEEApril 20, 2023