The Starship SN10 was a test model heavy-lift rocket developed by Elon Musk's private space company SpaceX to carry humans to the moon and Mars.
A prototype of SpaceX's Starship rocket exploded minutes after successfully launching and landing vertically, as intended, in a high-altitude experimental test from Boca Chica, Texas on Wednesday (March 3). It was the third such attempt to end in flames.
The Starship SN10 was a test model heavy-lift rocket developed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's private space company to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on future missions to the moon and Mars.
In early February, the Starship SN9 blew up on its final descent, like the SN8 before it.
For Elon Musk, it was mixed news. The SN10 made it further than previous models in touching down in a vertical position. In a tweet responding to tempered congratulations from an admirer of his work, Musk replied, "RIP SN10, honorable discharge."
The video feed provided by SpaceX on the company's Youtube page cut the signal after vertical touchdown, but fan feeds on the same social media platform showed an explosion at the base of the craft that ejected the SN10 into the air before being engulfed in orange flames, and then remnants crashing down to the ground.
“Starship SN10 landed in one piece!” He wrote on his twitter handle while sharing a tweet by SpaceX.
Starship SN10 landed in one piece! https://t.co/lO4AF47MaN— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 4, 2021
The Starship rocket, which will stand 394-feet (120 meters) tall when mated with its super-heavy first-stage booster, is the company's next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle - the center of Musk's ambitions to make human space travel more affordable and routine.
A first orbital Starship flight is planned for year's end. Musk has said he intends to fly Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa around the moon with the Starship in 2023.