SpaceX’s SN10 Starship prototype rocket exploded Wednesday upon landing on its launch pad after a high-altitude flight test.
The space company, founded by Elon Musk, successfully launched the spacecraft and completed a “belly flop” maneuver in the air before landing vertically. But minutes later, SN10 exploded on the concrete pad. The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear.
SN10 was fired 32,800 feet, or 10 kilometers, in the air, according to CNBC. The rocket itself is 150 feet tall, built with stainless steel, resembling earlier models SN9 and SN8, both of which also exploded in previous tests.
The explosion shocked viewers who were live-streaming the event.
#SN10 reflew a lot quicker than any of us expected ???? that was insane!!!! So…. congrats and also RIP ????♂️???? bye bye SN10, congrats on making history!!!! @spacex @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/FkDTa9ISRi
— Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) March 3, 2021
Oof. SN10 has decided to join SN8 and SN9.
— Piyush Kashyap (@Kashyappiyush55) March 3, 2021
Musk’s goal is to develop a Starship capable of transporting people and cargo on missions to the moon and Mars. The unmanned flight was SpaceX’s third suborbital test since February when its SN9 prototype exploded during its descent.
“Starship SN10 landed in one piece,” Musk tweeted, ignoring the rocket’s explosion. “SpaceX team is doing great work! One day, the true measure of success will be that Starship flights are commonplace.” (RELATED: Elon Musk Cheered For Threatening To Move California Locations, But Tesla’s Real Expansion Is In China)
SpaceX team is doing great work! One day, the true measure of success will be that Starship flights are commonplace.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 4, 2021
The flight was launched at SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, according to Fox Business. Musk himself recently moved to the Lone Star State and is planning to build a third manufacturing plant in Austin.