SpaceX: Starship SN10 successfully lands in Texas

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SpaceX has successfully landed the Starship prototype on its third attempt. The SN10 predecessors, the SN8 and the SN9, both ended in disaster as they exploded as they touched the ground when landing. However, the SN10 was to follow no such fate on its launch on March 3.

The SN10 launched and cruised at an altitude for 10 kilometres across the Texan coastal sky.

The landing looked like it was straight out of a sci-fi movie, as the huge metallic, futuristic rocket swooped and swerved in mid-air as it positioned itself for a seamless landing.

All looked tranquil on the launch pad until about three minutes later when it erupted into a huge ball of flames.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk made no mention of the cause of the explosion in his brief review of the mission on Twitter.

Mr Musk said: “Starship SN10 landed in one piece!”

However, he responded to a video of the explosion several hours later, simply adding: “RIP SN10, honourable discharge.”

There has been no official explanation as to why the SN10 exploded after touchdown, but experts have a theory.

The rough landing may have caused a leak, which at some point may have ignited and led to the stunning explosion.

YouTube scientist Scott Manley said: “So, looking at a bunch of different angles it looks to me as if the SN10 explosion was caused by the oxygen tank rupturing close to the interface with the thrust puck.

“Pushing the whole vehicle up with gas pressure, this ruptured everything and lead to conflagration.”

However, SpaceX will not be deterred by the explosion and will be pleased with the progress which saw it touch down.

The company will now begin to roll out its SN11 prototype.

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What the objective of the SN11 is has yet to be announced, but it is likely SpaceX will keep going until a landing does not ultimately end in an explosion.

After all, the Starship will one day be tasked with taking astronauts to the Moon and then to Mars, where Mr Musk hopes to establish a colony.

SpaceX has said of the Starship: “This capability will enable a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration, interplanetary flights and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond.”

The first known crewed mission involving the Starship is the 2023 commercial scheme which will see billionaire fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa launched around the Moon.

Mr Maezawa has offered to take eight members of the public with him.

The 45-year old said in a video uploaded to YouTube: “I’m inviting you to join me on this mission.

“I have bought all the seats, so it will be a private ride. I want people from all kinds of backgrounds to join.

“It will take three days to get to the moon, loop behind it, and three days to get back.”

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