Today marked yet another milestone moment for Elon Musk’s campaign to build a fully reusable rocket system and its Mars ambition, as SpaceX‘s Starship SN10 (Serial No. 10) prototype landed successfully after reaching a height of around 32,000ft in a high-altitude test flight in Texas. But after about eight minutes of landing vehicle didn’t manage to hold itself together, and exploded by rising up and crashing down again in a huge fireball.
The launch took place in Boca Chica, Texas, after its initial launch attempt was aborted due to having some issue in one of the prototype’s engines. The big stainless-steel SN10, unlike its predecessors SN8 and SN9 (which we have seen exploded after hitting the ground in previous test flights), landed successfully after reaching around 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) high and demonstrating the computer-controlled movements of the rockets by doing some belly flops. “Third time’s a charm, as the saying goes,” said SpaceX principal integration engineer John Insprucker and after that SpaceX live feed ended.
But that wasn’t the end of the story, as other cameras keep rolling and captured the dramatic ending of the SN10 prototype which first caught the flames and then exploded on the landing pad after 8 minutes of town down by rising up and crashing down again in a huge fireball.
Elon Musk after the SN10 landing tweeted “in one piece,” but after about 2 minutes of that tweet noted the explosion and tweeted jokingly “RIP SN10, honorable discharge.”
Well overall, this was a big success for SpaceX’s next-generation, fully reusable rocket system aiming to ferry crews of astronauts and 100 tons of cargo to fly regularly by 2023 in Earth orbit, and eventually Mars. Also, we’ll see many more test flights in the coming months, as the company is already building multiple SN10 successors, as well as the first Super Heavy prototype with an aim to put them in orbit by this year.