SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s Starship prototype rocket soared into the sky in a high-altitude test on Wednesday, March 3 from Boca Chica in Texas, then flew itself back to Earth and manoeuvred into its first – successful – upright landing.
But the triumph was short-lived.
“A beautiful soft landing,” a SpaceX commentator said during a live broadcast of the test flight, as an automated fire-suppression system trained a stream of water on flames still burning at the base of the rocket.
About eight minutes later it blew itself to pieces, lurching into the air and crashing back to the ground, Al Jazeera reports.
There was no immediate explanation for what went wrong.
SN10 was the third Starship to be destroyed in a fireball although it came far closer to achieving a safe, vertical touchdown than two previous models – SN8 in December and SN9 in February. The rocket is being developed by SpaceX to carry people and cargo on future missions to the Moon and Mars.