Elon Musk: SpaceX’s Out-of-Control Starship Struggled to Self-Destruct

During its brief first flight more than a week ago, the gigantic Starship rocket made by SpaceX generated an unanticipated “rock tornado” at launch, and multiple engines failed as it headed upward before it somersaulted out of control.

Then, said Elon Musk, the company’s founder, in an update delivered during a Twitter audio chat on Saturday night, the end of the flight was tenser than it should have been. An automated self-destruct command did not immediately destroy Starship. Instead, 40 seconds passed before the rocket finally exploded.

Despite all that went wrong, Mr. Musk deemed the launch of Starship a success.

“Obviously not a complete success,” he said, “but still nonetheless successful.”

He said that the goal of the test flight was “to learn a lot, and we learned a lot,” and that more test flights were planned for this year.

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