Mar 3, 2021 - Science

SpaceX launches and lands Starship prototype

Rockets framed against a setting Sun

Starship prototypes in Texas. Photo: SpaceX

A prototype of a next-generation SpaceX rocket took to the skies above Texas today for a test flight that ended in a successful landing for the rocket before it later exploded on the pad.

Why it matters: SpaceX hopes to one day use its Starship to send people and cargo to places like Mars. These tests are key to proving out the tech needed for those future missions.

Details: The Starship, called SN10, made it to about 10 kilometers in altitude before starting its descent back to Earth.

  • SN10 then managed to land upright on the pad, something that SN8 and SN9 were not able to accomplish during their test flights.
  • "Third time's the charm," SpaceX engineer and webcast commentator John Insprucker said during the broadcast of the launch.
  • While the landing was seemingly successful, the rocket then exploded after touching down. You can watch a replay of the explosion here at about 14.5 minutes after launch.

Go deeper: Watch a replay of the launch.

Go deeper