SpaceX's Starship rocket, built for the moon and Mars, lifts off in inaugural test flight

SpaceX's Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, took off from a launch pad on the coast of South Texas on Thursday morning, kicking off the vehicle's historic first test flight. The rocket reached an altitude of approximately 41,000 feet before landing safely back at the launch site.

SpaceX's Starship rocket, built for the moon and Mars, lifts off in inaugural test flight


SpaceX's Starship rocket, the most powerful ever built, launched from a launchpad on the coast in South Texas, marking the historic first flight of the vehicle.

Super Heavy rocket booster with 33 engines lifted off on Thursday morning. It sent a huge boom along the coast as it ignited. Starship, the spacecraft mounted on top of the booster, flew out over the Gulf of Mexico.

Around two-and-ahalf minutes after launch, the Super Heavy booster is expected to exhaust most of its fuel, separate from the Starship, and be dumped in the ocean. Starship's engines will blaze for over six minutes to reach orbital speeds.

After completing nearly a full orbit of the Earth, the vehicle will reenter the Earth's atmospheric near Hawaii. About an hour and a quarter after launch, it's anticipated to splash down near the coast.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has been hyping the test flight for years. This comes after a series of explosive tests and regulatory hurdles.

Musk has been talking about Starship for years. He's made elaborate presentations on its design and purpose. NASA plans to use it to send astronauts to the moon. Musk has even stated that the sole reason he founded SpaceX was to create a vehicle similar to Starship, which could be used to establish a human colony on Mars.

The local beaches were crowded with spectators, many of whom brought folding chairs, dogs, and children along. The crowd was similar to the one that gathered on Monday for the first attempt of the company, which ended up being grounded while engineers tried to fix a problem with the Super heavy booster valve.

Many locals in the area around Starbase, SpaceX's term for the Starship site located on Texas' southernmost point, have welcomed the rocket with great enthusiasm. Starship is permeating local culture in the surrounding area. There's a Starship model in someone's front yard, an entire 'Rocket Ranch,' populated by die-hard fans, and even a billboard promoting Martian beer.

What you need to know about the rocket

Starship achieved a significant milestone by clearing the launch pad. Musk tried to temper expectations in the run-up to Thursday’s liftoff. He said, ‘success should not be expected...That would have been insane.’

The development of Starship was based in SpaceX's private spaceport, located about 40 minutes from Brownsville, Texas on the border between the US and Mexico.

Years ago, testing began with a few 'hop tests' on early prototypes of spacecrafts. The company began with short flights that lifted only a few dozen foot off the ground, before moving on to higher-altitude flights. Most of these flights ended in explosions when the company tried to land them upright.

However, one suborbital test, which took place in May 2021 was a success.

SpaceX has been working since then to prepare its Super Heavy booster for flight. The 230-foot tall (69-meter) cylinder contains 33 Raptor engines.

Starship and Super Heavy are about 400 feet tall (120 meters) when fully stacked.