SpaceX launched a prototype of its Starship rocket miles into the air Wednesday and, finally, landed it successfully. But 10 minutes later, the rocket exploded.
The roughly 16-story test vehicle - called Starship serial No. 10, or SN10 - lifted off at 5:14 p.m. on Wednesday. As it climbed, it shut off one engine and then another. The rocket hovered at the peak of its flight for about 30 seconds and then cut its last engine, tipped over, and belly flopped toward the ground.
As the rocket neared the ground, its Raptor engines reignited, flipped SN10 upright, and slowly lowered it to the landing pad.
But a fire persisted around the rocket’s skirt. Then about 10 minutes later, an explosion thrust SN10 back into the air, leaving it in pieces.