SpaceX has conducted a new test flight with its Starship rocket. It reached a height of ten kilometers and even seemed to have landed for the first time. However, the missile detonated shortly after landing.
The Starship SN10 took off from SpaceX’s own launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas on Wednesday night at around 12:15 AM, after an attempt was delayed earlier in the evening due to thrust issues. After launch, the rocket flew to a height of about ten kilometers, the target height of the test. During takeoff, the three Raptor engines were shut down one by one. Then Starship did a belly flop , in which the rocket came to lie horizontally for a while and then had to land vertically again.
During the landing, SpaceX managed to switch the three engines back on. Just before the touchdown , two of them were eliminated. That’s where previous Starship landings failed in February, one of the engines was not ignited in time and the missile crashed on impact.
Initially, the landing seemed to have gone well at this launch. SpaceX’s own live stream showed the rocket landing softly vertically on the platform. The live stream was cut short shortly afterwards. However, later images show that the rocket exploded after all. That happened about eight minutes after landing.
The cause of the explosion is not yet known. SpaceX or CEO Elon Musk has not said anything about that yet. The images show how the rocket flies into the air due to the explosion.
The SN10 flight was the sixth successful flight of the Starship missile. Previous prototypes regularly exploded or imploded on the launch pad, but on the past two flights SN8 and SN 9 both managed to set new record highs. However, the landing failed each time.