An unmanned SpaceX Starship SN10 test rocket – designed to take humans to the moon and beyond – perfectly launched and touched down on Earth Wednesday, but then exploded on the launch pad shortly after landing.
It was third consecutive test flight of the rocket to end in an explosion, though it did so after flying more than 10 kilometers into the air, descending horizontally, then flipping upright for a perfect landing at the Boca Chica, Texas test facility.
Video of the launch pad showed the craft leaning slightly and emitting streams of smoke before it exploded eight minutes after landing. In the previous test, the craft exploded after landing hard.
On his Twitter account, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said, “Starship 10 landed in one piece! RIP SN10, honorable discharge.” There was no immediate explanation for why the rocket exploded, but a fuel leak is suspected.
The shiny bullet-shaped rocket ship, which will stand 120 meters tall when placed atop its super-heavy first-stage booster, is the company’s next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle – the center of Musk’s ambitions to make human space travel more affordable and routine.
Source: Voice of America