An unmanned SpaceX rocket exploded on the ground Wednesday after carrying out what had seemed to be a successful flight and landing.
It was the third straight flub involving the prototype of the Starship rocket, which SpaceX hopes one day to send to Mars. The last two test flights ended in crashes.
“A beautiful soft landing,” a SpaceX commentator said on the live broadcast of the test flight, although flames were coming out at the bottom and crews were trying to put them out.
The rocket exploded a few minutes later. It was thrown into the air and crashed back to the ground.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk has been developing the next-generation Starship rocket for the purpose of going to Mars — though two prototypes blew up in spectacular fashion on their recent test runs.
The latest prototype, named SN10, for “serial number 10,” took off a little before 1120 GMT from Boca Chica, Texas.
The two other prototypes (SN8 and SN9) crashed on landing, in December and then in early February.