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SpaceX loses Starship rocket during reentry after successful launch into orbit on test flight

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A SpaceX Starship rocket was launched successfully on its third test flight from the Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, before losing contact on reentry over the Indian Ocean, likely breaking apart. The test flight occurred on SpaceX’s 22nd anniversary, according to a livestream.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hailed its entry into space, writing on X, “Starship reached orbital velocity! Congratulations @SpaceX team!!” and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson wrote on X, “Congrats to @SpaceX on a successful test flight! Starship has soared into the heavens. Together, we are making great strides through Artemis to return humanity to the Moon—then look onward to Mars.”

SpaceX said on Thursday that the unmanned spaceship achieved multiple milestones and was still deemed a success as it advanced further than either of its previous test. During the first test in April 2023, the rocket was forced to self-destruct about three minutes after liftoff when the boosters failed to separate. At approximately 5,000 tons, Musk touted the spaceship as “the largest flying object ever made.” Thursday’s flight spent more than 45 minutes in space before the command center lost contact with the ship.

The rocket is being tested as SpaceX pushes to travel to the moon, and eventually, Mars. The company said: “As the most powerful launch system ever developed, Starship will be able to carry up to 100 people on long-duration, interplanetary flights. Starship will also enable satellite delivery, the development of a Moon base, and point-to-point transport here on Earth.”

The FAA said on Thursday that it would oversee the SpaceX investigation into the “mishap” with the third launch involving the Super Heavy booster and Starship vehicle: “No public injuries or public property damage have been reported. The FAA is overseeing the SpaceX-led mishap investigation to ensure the company complies with its FAA-approved mishap investigation plan and other regulatory requirements.”

Editorial credit: L Galbraith /

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