After a very successful landing, the newest prototype of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket Starship exploded at its facilities in Boca Chica, Texas.
Despite the unfortunate conclusion to this latest test flight, Starship serial number 10, or SN10, represents another gradual improvement over its predecessors, SN8 and SN9, both of which failed to nail the landing.
SN8 cleared a hurdle of its own when the prototype reached a height of nearly eight miles, while also checking off a few other technical achievements. However, the test ended with the rocket going up in flames upon landing.
Afterwards, SN9 flew over six miles in the air, but crashed onto the landing pad and blew up.
SN10 successfully reached its height goal of over six miles, and executed a “belly flop” where the rocket descends in free fall before the engines turn back on, returning it to a vertical position for the landing, albeit a far from perfect one.
“Third time’s the charm, as the saying goes,” John Insprucker, SpaceX’s principal integration engineer, declared on the company’s livestream.
But a fire persisted around the rocket’s skirt. Then about 10 minutes later, an explosion thrust SN10 back into the air, leaving it in pieces.