SpaceX's next-generation Starship spacecraft atop its powerful Super Heavy rocket lifts off from the company's Boca Chica launchpad on a brief uncrewed test flight near Brownsville, Texas, US, April 20, 2023 in a still image from video. Image Credit: Reuters

Boca Chica: Elon Musk's SpaceX on Thursday successfully launched its next-generation Starship cruise vessel for the first time atop the company's powerful new Super Heavy rocket in an uncrewed test flight that ended minutes later with the vehicle exploding in the sky.

The two-stage rocketship, standing taller than the Statue of Liberty at 394 feet (120 m) high, blasted off from the company's Starbase spaceport and test facility east of Brownsville, Texas, for what SpaceX hoped, at best, would be a 90-minute debut flight into space.

A live SpaceX webcast of the lift-off showed the rocketship rising from the launch tower into the morning sky as the Super Heavy's raptor engines roared to life in a ball of flame and billowing clouds of exhaust and water vapour.

But less than four minutes into the flight, the upper-stage Starship failed to separate as designed from the lower-stage Super Heavy, and the combined vehicle was seen flipping end over end before exploding.

Nevertheless, SpaceX officials on the webcast cheered the feat of getting the fully integrated Starship and booster rocket off the ground for a clean launch and delared the brief episode a successful test flight.