World's biggest rocket Starship by SpaceX launches on second attempt but explodes minutes later

20 April 2023, 14:36 | Updated: 20 April 2023, 16:01

SpaceX rocket explodes minutes after launch

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The world's biggest ever rocket launched today on its second attempt, but exploded minutes later - in a test flight that was hailed as a 'success' by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

It was the second time SpaceX attempted to launch Starship this week after a failure on Monday.

While the rocket, named Starship, failed to get off the ground on Monday, it managed several minutes in the air before exploding four minutes into the test flight.

SpaceX described the explosion as a "rapid unscheduled disassembly".

Read More: Elon Musk's SpaceX ridiculed after describing explosion of Starship as 'Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly'

Meanwhile, SpaceX CEO Musk congratulated his team on the launch.

He added: "Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months."

SpaceX starship spirals ahead of explosion after launch

SpaceX tweeted: "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.

"Congratulations to the entire SpaceX team on an exciting first integrated flight test of Starship!"

Describing the explosion, SpaceX said: "Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation."

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Reacting to the launch, British astronaut Tim Peake congratulated SpaceX on its launch.

"Congratulations SpaceX on making it off the launchpad.

"A shame about the ‘Rapid Unscheduled Departure’ but space is hard. Test, learn & try again."

Starship by SpaceX successfully launched but exploded minutes later
Starship by SpaceX successfully launched but exploded minutes later. Picture: SpaceX

The rocket is the world's biggest, standing at around 120 metres.

That is nine metres taller than Nasa's Saturn V (111m), or Space Launch System (98m).

It has 33 engines and 16.7 million pounds of thrust.

SpaceX says it plans to use Starship to carry up to 100 people on long-duration interplanetary flights.

Following the first attempt to launch SpaceX on Monday, the launch was turned into "wet dress rehearsal", meaning the team ran through what would have happened if the rocket had taken off.