SpaceX has revealed the reason behind the explosion of its Starship rocket during its test flight on Thursday. The company activated its “flight termination system” after the 400-foot-tall Starship veered off course, experienced multiple engine failures, and began tumbling.
The “rapid unscheduled disassembly” was not unexpected, as SpaceX founder Elon Musk had previously given the spacecraft only a 50-50 chance of reaching orbit. The test flight was intended to gather data to improve future flights of the Starship.
Despite the setback, SpaceX remains committed to pushing the boundaries of space technology, with plans to use the Starship to carry people and cargo to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. NASA has already reserved a Starship for its next moon-walking team.
However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded the vehicle and will oversee the investigation into the mishap. The agency is responsible for protecting the public during commercial space transportation launch and reentry operations.
“A return to flight of the Starship/Super Heavy vehicle is based on the FAA determining that any system, process, or procedure related to the mishap does not affect public safety,” the agency said in a statement.
SpaceX’s willingness to take calculated risks is part of what has made the company so successful in the past, and it will undoubtedly continue to push the boundaries of space technology in the future. As NASA administrator Bill Nelson tweeted, “every great achievement throughout history has demanded some level of calculated risk, because with great risk comes great reward.”