Relive SpaceX's explosive 1st Starship test flight in these incredible launch photos

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.

Related: SpaceX's 1st Starship launches on epic test flight, explodes in 'rapid unscheduled disassembly'

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.

Spaceflight photographer John Kraus caught this stunning shot of Starship streaking through the Texas sky, posting it to Twitter shortly after launch.

NASA Spaceflight photographer Max Evans caught this shot of Starship shortly after liftoff.

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.

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Brett Tingley
Managing Editor,

Brett is curious about emerging aerospace technologies, alternative launch concepts, military space developments and uncrewed aircraft systems. Brett's work has appeared on Scientific American, The War Zone, Popular Science, the History Channel, Science Discovery and more. Brett has English degrees from Clemson University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In his free time, Brett enjoys skywatching throughout the dark skies of the Appalachian mountains.