The Federal Aviation Administration, which licenses rocket launches in the US, said it would oversee a mishap investigation. A spokesman said this was standard practice when a vehicle was lost in flight.
The entrepreneur had tried to temper expectations before the launch. Just getting the vehicle off the ground and not destroying the launch pad infrastructure would be considered "a win", he said.
His wish was granted. Starship cleared its launch complex on the US-Mexico border and picked up pace as it headed out over the Gulf of Mexico. But it was evident within a minute or so that not everything was going to plan.