As per the latest space and science news, the astronautics company SpaceX launched a Starship spacecraft into space in November 2023, but it exploded a few minutes later. The attempt was Starship’s second test after its first attempt to reach space also ended in an explosion in early 2023.

The rocket ship blasted off from the company’s base in Texas, United States, and was anticipated to fly for 90 minutes. The company is owned by one of the world’s billionaires, Elon Musk, and the founder shared that he hopes that Starship can one day become a cheap and reusable system that will jumpstart human exploration of the moon and Mars.


  • Despite SpaceX’s Starship launch failure, 71.53% see it as a sign of developmental progress.
  • 93.65% believe there is a high possibility of a catastrophic failure of Starship during launch.
  • SpaceX’s Starship and Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander were both seen as promising by 30.5%.

SpaceX’s Starship Launch Failure

SpaceX’s Starship successfully reached space on its second test flight but exploded minutes later. Despite the setback, the launch achieved milestones such as successful stage separation and reaching a high altitude on November 18.

An issue during the second-stage burn triggered an automated termination system, preventing the completion of a round-the-world journey.

When asked about the incident, the public was generally aware, with 66.17% claiming that they were and 33.83% stating the opposite.

Despite the explosion, SpaceX’s Starship second test flight achieved milestones like successful stage separation and a high-altitude reach, compared to the first test flight in April, when both stages exploded before reaching space. 71.53% believe that the recent test flight indicates progress in the development of Starship, while 28.47% stated otherwise.

Figure 1: Does SpaceX’s Starship launch failure indicate progress?

66.85% endorse SpaceX’s method of launching early prototypes, accepting the risk of explosions for valuable insights in subsequent testing. In contrast, NASA invests years in extensive ground testing to ensure success on the first flight.

Figure 2: Support for SpaceX’s approach to conducting test flights

What Could Happen If Things Went Sideways?

One key concern experts raised is what would happen if a massive object like Starship were to experience a catastrophic failure during its ascent and subsequently crash back to Earth.

Astrophysicist Avi Loeb warns that Starship’s crash could release energy equivalent to 100 kilotons of TNT, three times the combined explosive power of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Survey results indicate a high perceived risk of catastrophic Starship failure during launch, with 59.95% considering it highly possible and 33.65% viewing it as somewhat possible. Conversely, only 4.75% found it somewhat impossible, and 1.65% believed it was highly impossible.

Figure 3: The possibility of a catastrophic failure of Starship during launch

The first lunar mission to make use of Starship, Artemis III, is slated for late 2025. 68.62% thought that Starship would succeed in its future test flights before the scheduled date for the Artemis III, while 31.38% opposed.

NASA selected Blue Moon, another lunar lander under development by the Jeff Bezos-owned space company Blue Origin, as an alternative lunar lander for future Artemis missions.

In the SpaceX Starship vs. Blue Origin Blue Moon comparison, 30.5% found them equally promising. 27.37% favored SpaceX’s Starship, 20.95% chose Blue Moon, and 21.23% believed neither held promise for lunar exploration.

Feasibility of SpaceX’s Starship for Human Colonization

Reports claimed that SpaceX is investing heavily in Starship because the ultimate goal for SpaceX’s Starship is to colonize Mars. The report added that Musk hopes a fleet of starships will one day be able to put enough supplies into orbit to carry the first settlers to Mars.

The ultimate goal for Starship is seen as achievable but with challenges by 44.73%, highly unachievable by 29.83%, and highly achievable by 25.43%.


Survey TitlePublic Opinion on the Failed Launch of SpaceX’s Starship
DurationNovember 27 – December 4, 2023
Number of Participants6,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.