(NEXSTAR) – Elon Musk’s SpaceX had time for a brief celebration after the successful landing of Starship prototype SN10, which was followed moments later by a massive explosion.
The ensuing fireball sent the rocket flying off the ground before rubble from the blast crashed back to earth.
The SN10 is a prototype for Musk’s Starship Mars rocket, which is being developed to take people to the red planet.
The SN10 was set to take off on its test flight out of Boca Chica, Texas earlier in the day but the company called off the flight at the last minute.
Three hours later, the rocket lifted off during its second attempt, reaching an altitude of six miles at which point the engines shut off.
“Oh very nice, very nice,” SpaceX engineer and live-feed narrator John Insprucker said.
At the end of the flight, video showed the SN10 rotating in mid-air, its base touching down neatly – although video showed flames underneath the rocket and the aircraft at a slight tilt.
“Third time’s the charm as the saying goes,” Insprucker said. “We’ve had a successful soft touchdown on the landing pad that’s capping a beautiful test flight of Starship 10. As a reminder, the key point of today’s test flight was to gather the data of controlling the vehicle while re-entering, and we were successful in doing so.”
Moments later, the prototype burst into flame.
The SN10’s predecessor, the SN9, exploded in spectacular fashion in early February – “belly-flopping” onto the launch pad and immediately blowing up.