Starship agony: An eyewitness posted a video of a SpaceX rocket explosion at an altitude of 148 km

The second-ever test flight of SpaceX’s Starship rocket struck with its photogenicity. Many photographers — both private space agency and amateur — watched the majestic launch of the tallest and most powerful rocket in the history of mankind. We have already seen it from different angles, there is even a 360-degree video of the flight. But only now we have photos of how the spaceship collapsed.

The launch of the rocket took place on November 18 from the SpaceX Starbase in Boca Chica (Texas). Starship reached an altitude of 148 km, which significantly exceeded the 100 km limit of space. Then it was supposed to return intact and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. However, during the flight, a “quick unplanned disassembly” happened, as SpaceX commented on it. In general, the test flight was considered successful.

Starship reaches space. A frame from a video taken by amateur astronomer Scott Ferguson. 

Impressive photos of the explosion of the upper stage of Starship during a suborbital flight were captured by amateur astronomer Scott Ferguson from Astronomy Live, using his own telescope and watching from the Florida Keys. He developed a program in advance to track the trajectory of the rocket, expanding its capabilities so that the telescope automatically determined the place where the rocket would appear, even before its visibility. Thanks to this, he could observe the last minutes of the flight of the Starship.

The second flight of the Super Heavy rocket with the Starship spacecraft on November 18, 2023. The photo shows the moment of the Starship separation. Source: SpaceX

“There it was, spinning out of control, spewing clouds of gas in multiple directions. I realized the cloud I saw was probably the flight termination system destroying the vehicle, yet it looked to me like the whole thing was still intact. I thought the flight termination system had failed to blow it up. It wasn’t until I got home and reviewed the footage that I realized it was just the front nose section and forward flaps that were still relatively intact,” says the author of the video.

Ferguson gave the original video of the last minutes of the “life” of Starship to SpaceX, and posted an edited stabilized version on the network, which shows how the remnants of the rocket hover in space before completely burning up in the atmosphere.

Earlier, we dealt with whether SpaceX would receive permission for further tests.

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