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Spacex’s Starship Lost in the Indian Ocean After Reaching Orbit

Spacex’s Starship Lost in the Indian Ocean
After reaching orbit for the first time, SpaceX’s Starship lost in the Indian Ocean. Credit: Mobilus In Mobili / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

SpaceX’s Starship rocket made its first trip to space successfully, but now it went missing upon reentry.

The rocket, which is the largest and most powerful ever made, took off from its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, on Thursday, March 14th, at 9:25 a.m. EDT (1:25 p.m. GMT).

It reached the stratosphere just a few minutes later, breaking records with its immense power of 16.5 million pounds (7.5 million kilograms) of thrust.

Starship stands tall at 394 feet (120 meters), and it can carry ten times more stuff than SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 rockets, as reported by Live Science.

Starship’s first-ever flight to reach orbit

This launch was the rocket’s third test flight, and it was the first one to reach orbit. The last two ended dramatically with explosions of the craft’s 33-engine Super Heavy booster rocket, leading to an environmental lawsuit.

During the hour-long flight in orbit, the spacecraft performed several maneuvers. However, mission control lost contact with Starship as it came back into Earth’s atmosphere, somewhere over the Indian Ocean.

SpaceX confirmed that Starship probably broke apart or exploded over the ocean. Dan Huot, SpaceX’s communications manager, mentioned during the company’s live broadcast of the launch, “The team has made the call that the ship has been lost, so no splashdown today.”

He further added, “But again, just it’s incredible to see how much further we got this time around.”

The team lost contact with Starlink during reentry

While the rocket was in the air, mission engineers carried out several tests. These included reigniting its engines in space and opening its payload door. They aimed to guide the craft back to land in the Indian Ocean.

However, during reentry, the team lost contact with Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet service, and the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System that helps monitor its rockets.

SpaceX plans to use future versions of Starship for various purposes. These include transporting crews, spacecraft, satellites, and cargo to different places in the solar system. They’ll do this both for themselves and for NASA.

The U.S. space agency plans to use Starship’s Human Landing System to take humans to the moon’s surface, according to Live Science.

Starship is mainly designed to be cost-effective and easy to build. It uses affordable stainless steel for its construction and methane as fuel, which SpaceX says can be found on Mars. The rocket is built to be used multiple times.

In its single-use form, it can carry up to 275 tons (250 metric tons) of payload, which is around 10 times more than SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 rockets.

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