SpaceX's Starship SN10 Explodes After Landing at Texas Launch Site
Space Exploration Technologies Corp.'s newest and biggest rocket pulled off its first successful landing, then exploded a brief time later and was engulfed by fire.
The Starship SN-10 prototype lifted off from SpaceX's seaside launch pad at about 5:15 p.m. in Boca Chica, Texas, on Wednesday, based on a live video stream on SpaceX's website. The rocket then flew to an altitude of about 10 kilometers (around 6 miles) before turning its engines back on and settling on the landing pad with a slight lean.
Shortly after that, the rocket was lifted into the air by an explosion and consumed by flames, possibly after a fire ignited fuel. Until that point, the rocket appeared to achieve a key milestone with its first stable landing in three attempts. After its ascent, Starship shut off its three Raptor engines and performed a controlled “belly flop” descent, then reignited its engines to make a vertical landing.
Despite the mishap, the test is likely to signal progress for the massive vehicle. An earlier Starship rocket slammed to the ground on the program's first high-altitude flight Dec. 9, igniting a fireball, followed by a similar outcome with a second prototype last month. No one was hurt in the mishaps, and there were no reports of injuries from the fire after the latest flight, which was the third high-altitude test.