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Starship successful launch cum abrupt unplanned explosion

SpaceX is in celebratory mode since its attempt to send starship spacecraft into orbit for its maiden test flight failed. Why is SpaceX celebrating failed attempts?

Great strides that SpaceX made courtesy of this failed attempt justify the celebrations. Successful take-off of Starship is no mean feat and SpaceX is celebrating that. This was a test flight that was meant to be part of the developmental process of the starship. A starship is a two-part vehicle (230 feet tall super heavy rocket booster and 164 feet tall Starship spacecraft on top of it). Super heavy rocket booster equipped with 33 falcon raptor engines is designed to be reusable but the reusable feature was not to be tested in this attempt and the booster was to fall into the Gulf of Mexico instead of landing upright.


This is just one evidence of this flight being part of the developmental process. The success of this attempt was not the goal of this attempt, the goal was to get insights to improve the probability of success in the future. This launch system is destined to take cargo and astronauts to the moon, mars, and beyond and NASA has already decided to use this launch system for its Artemis 3 mission.

What went as per the plan and what did not?

Starship took off successfully at 9.33 ET triggering a round of applause. Liftoff was as planned. The vehicle survived Max-Q. This happened despite the fact that the super-heavy rocket booster lost six of its 33 falcon raptor engines during the flight. In the third minute of the flight, it became evident that everything was not going as per the plan. The engines of the booster didn’t stop at the appointed time and the first-stage booster didn’t separate from the second-stage starship spacecraft as per the schedule. This is when the flight termination system was activated and the Starship exploded over the Gulf of Mexico. The maiden test flight of Starship ended in about 4 minutes of liftoff but provided valuable insights that can be vital for the perfection of this launch system.

Why did SpaceX employees cheer despite the disintegration of the starship?  

SpaceX never expected the full success of this mission and none other than SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had stated that. Employees cheered when the rocket cleared the launch tower without causing any damage. Starship surviving Max-Q was also welcomed with cheers. The next target was stage separation but that remained unfulfilled. Rocket and starship spacecraft couldn’t separate and the flight termination system was activated to destroy both rocket and spacecraft causing an explosive end to the mission.

This test flight has been touted as a successful failure rather than an abject failure by many.

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