CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX's futuristic Starship, known as SN10, exploded moments after what looked like a successful touchdown.
The full-scale prototype soared more than 6 miles Wednesday evening during a test flight after lifting off from the southern tip of Texas.
It descended horizontally and then flipped upright just in time to land.
The shiny bullet-shaped rocketship remained intact, prompting a SpaceX commentator to declare, “third time's a charm.” SpaceX then stopped their livestream of the event.
But three minutes later, the Starship exploded on the landing pad and was hurled into the air by the force. Multiple independent video feeds of the test launch showed the rocket exploding on its landing pad.
Two previous test flights by SpaceX crash-landed in fireballs. The test flight on Wednesday was actually scrubbed at the last tenth of a second before take-off at 3 p.m. CT, and rescheduled for 5 p.m.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that the abort was triggered by pre-set standards around the rocket's thrust, which Musk described as "slightly conservative."
Launch abort on slightly conservative high thrust limit. Increasing thrust limit & recycling propellant for another flight attempt today.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2021
SpaceX founder Elon Musk plans to use Starships to send people to the moon and Mars.