Elon Musks £2.4bn rocket was deliberately blown up after engine failed

After Elon Musk’s 400-foot tall Starship rocket exploded yesterday, SpaceX bosses have revealed that the destruction of the spacecraft was deliberate.

A Space X spokesperson confirmed yesterday (April 20) that the Starship's self-destruct system was activated after the booster rockets failed to separate.

"Starship was veering off its planned course," the company said. "SpaceX and the US Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] have procedures in place to prevent a rocket from accidentally injuring people or damaging property".

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The company said that more than one of the massive spacecraft’s engines had failed and Starship had begun to lose altitude and "tumble" – leading to fears that it might cause a disaster on the ground.

"The flight termination system was commanded on both the booster and the ship. As is standard procedure, the pad and surrounding area was cleared well in advance of the test," a statement from the company read.

Video from the launch shows a NASA camera van parked close to the launch pad being pelted with débris as the massive spacecraft lifted off.

Kate Tice, a SpaceX quality systems engineer, said that even though the rocket had blown up, the launch was still a technical success: “We cleared the tower, which was our only hope,” she said during the live stream of the launch.

"To get this far is amazing," she said. "Everything after clearing the tower was icing on the cake."

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SpaceX’s Principal Integration Engineer John Insprucker added: "Now this was a development test.

"It's a first test flight of Starship. And the goal is to gather the data and as we said, clear the pad and get ready to go again.

“So you never know exactly what's going to happen. But as we promised, excitement is guaranteed. And Starship gave us a rather spectacular end to what was truly an incredible test as far."

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“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,” SpaceX tweeted.

The FAA has launched an investigation as a matter of course: "An anomaly occurred during the ascent and prior to stage separation resulting in a loss of the vehicle," the FAA said in a statement. "No injuries or public property damage have been reported."

"The FAA will oversee the mishap investigation of the Starship/Super Heavy test mission. 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. This is standard practice for all mishap investigations."

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