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SpaceX launches Starship rocket in explosive 2nd test flight

Loren Elliott/Getty Images

(BOCA CHICA, Texas) —¬†SpaceX launched its Starship rocket Saturday morning for the deep-space vehicle’s second test flight, during which the booster exploded after separating and the spacecraft apparently detonated after reaching space.

SpaceX officials said the mega rocket — which is designed to bring NASA astronauts to the moon — successfully lifted off from Boca Chica, Texas, under the power of all 33 engines. The booster then successfully separated from the spacecraft before shortly experiencing what SpaceX called a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” and exploding.

Starship’s engines continued to fire for several minutes on its way to space until SpaceX lost data from the second stage of the rocket, SpaceX officials said during a livestream. The spacecraft appears to have detonated, officials said.

“The automated flight termination system on second stage appears to have triggered very late in the burn as we were headed downrange out over the Gulf of Mexico,” aerospace engineer John Insprucker said during the livestream.

SpaceX congratulated its team on a successful lift-off and booster separation, which comes months after the booster failed to separate during the first flight test.

“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 multiplanetary,” SpaceX said on X on Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said no injuries or public property damage have been reported after a “mishap” occurred during the launch, resulting in the loss of the vehicle.

The FAA said it will oversee a mishap investigation led by SpaceX to determine the root cause of the event and ways to prevent it from happening again.

SpaceX will not be able to conduct a third Starship flight test until the FAA determines there is no risk to public safety. SpaceX will also need to submit a request to modify its license to add flights, the FAA said.

During the first test in April, the rocket was forced to self-destruct about three minutes after liftoff when the boosters failed to separate.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and NASA administrator Bill Nelson congratulated those involved following the second test flight.

“Spaceflight is a bold adventure demanding a can-do spirit and daring innovation,” Nelson said in a statement on X. “Today’s test is an opportunity to learn — then fly again.”

“Together @NASA and @SpaceX will return humanity to the Moon, Mars & beyond,” he continued.

Starship is designed to carry passengers to the moon and Mars as part of NASA’s Artemis program, and eventually will take 100 people on long-duration, interplanetary flights.

ABC News’ Gina Sunseri and Gio Benitez contributed to this report.

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