SpaceX's Starship Prototype Rocket Explodes Minutes After Successful Landing

SN10, the latest SpaceX Starship prototype, appeared to make a successful landing for the first time, but unexpectedly exploded about 10 minutes later.

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The newest prototype of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket Starship executed what appeared to be a successful landing Wednesday at its facilities in Boca Chica, Texas before exploding several minutes later

An amazing shot of Starship SN10's post-landing Rapid Unplanned Disassembly (RUD) after Wednesday's test flight.


— Chris Bergin - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) March 3, 2021

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. While the test ended with the rocket going up in flames upon landing, Musk saw the run as a success. 

Similarly, 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.

Starship’s flip manoeuvre is simply INCREDIBLE! 🤯#SpaceX #Starship #SN10

— Everything SpaceX (@spacex360) March 4, 2021

Starship SN10 stuck the landing!! #Starship #SN10 #SpaceX

— leandra (@leandrahino) March 4, 2021

Musk took to Twitter to celebrate the successful conclusion of the test flight. 

Starship SN10 landed in one piece!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 4, 2021

There has been some suspicion that a rough landing, combined with what some observers believe to be a methane leak caused the SN10 to unexpectedly soar back into the sky 10 minutes after touching down. SpaceX has yet to address the incident. 

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