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World’s biggest rocket explodes minutes after takeoff – and Musk looks furious

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    Elon Musk's SpaceX Starship – the biggest rocket ever launched – has just exploded in Earth's atmosphere in incredible scenes.

    The Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket – collectively referred to as Starship – are a reusable system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars and beyond.

    Engineers at SpaceX are understood to have called the incident "rapid unscheduled disassembly" during its climb.

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    The stainless steel Starship is 120 metres tall, has 33 engines and 16.7 million pounds of thrust, but when the booster tried to separate from the upper stage of the ship things went wrong.

    The rocket's booster started to fall but according to the BBC's science editor Rebecca Morelle, despite having had higher hopes, the mission won't be regarded as a failure by engineers.

    SpaceX says Starship, which has 33 engines, will be able to carry up to 100 people on long-duration interplanetary flights.

    It will also enable the delivery of satellites and the development of a moon base, and point to point transport on Earth – allowing travel to anywhere in the world in one hour or less.

    After the rocket cleared its launch tower, engineers said: "To make it this far is amazing".

    They added: "You never know what's going to happen.

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    "Starship gave us an exciting end to an incredible test".

    British astronaut Tim Peake took to Twitter to celebrate the launch, saying: "Congratulations @SpaceX #Starship_launch on making it off the launchpad. A shame about the ‘Rapid Unscheduled Departure’ but space is hard. Test, learn & try again."

    He then corrected himself saying: "Apologies – disassembly".

    The mission has already been declared a success by Musk's SpaceX team because the rocket managed to clear the launch tower.

    It said: "Teams will continue to review data and work toward our next flight test," SpaceX say.

    "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!"


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