SpaceX Starship lands, then explodes

SpaceX Starship SN10, a heavy-duty launch vehicle prototype, successfully rose 6.2 miles in a test flight from Boca Chica, Texas, before exploding after an otherwise successful landing.

The prototype was able to fly back to the surface 6 minutes and 20 seconds after lift-off to achieve the first upright landing for a Starship model but detonated eight minutes later.

The model reportedly tilted to one side as it is automated anti-fire system sprayed water on flames still burning at the base of the rocket.

This flight represented the third high-altitude test flight for a Starship rocket, but the first to land successfully.

SN8 and SN9, SN10's two immediate predecessors, managed to fly without any issue, but immediately fell to pieces on landing.

Starship is being engineered with the intention of making journeys - both crewed and unscrewed - to the moon, Mars and other destinations according to chief executive Elon Musk.

Potential users of Starship are said to include NASA, the American military, and commercial ventures.

SpaceX has said it plans to eventually phase out its other flight hardware, including the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy rockets, and Dragon cargo and crew capsules.

SpaceX has other prototypes being developed in Boca Chica, including a booster called the Super Heavy, which Starship will eventually launch on top of.

Starship and Super Heavy will stand about 120 metres tall when combined on the launch pad.
The news comes after Elon promised a 2023 lunar excursion to the Japanese e-commerce billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

SpaceX is also currently competing with several other aerospace companies to be involved in Nasa’s planned return to the Moon this decade.

"Third time's a charm, as the saying goes," said SpaceX principal integration engineer John Insprucker. "We've had a successful soft touchdown on the landing pad that’s capping a beautiful test flight of Starship 10.”

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