SpaceX rocket prototype explodes on the ground minutes after landing
“A wonderful soft landing,” SpaceX commented in the video broadcasting the test flight live. Flames were however visible at the foot of the rocket, being extinguished by the teams on site.
A few minutes later, a huge explosion threw the craft into the air, which shattered as it fell to the ground. No explanation was immediately provided.
This vehicle is set to become the rocket of choice for SpaceX, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, to one day go to Mars. The prototype, named SN10, for “Serial Number 10”, took off a little before 11:20 GMT from Boca Chica, Texas, for a third suborbital test.
The machine rose in the sky, propelled by three engines, which went out one after the other, and the vehicle overturned to place itself in a horizontal position.
It reached 10 kilometers altitude, before starting its descent, and the rocket then returned to a vertical position, managing to land, at first glance without incident, at the desired location.
Two other prototypes (SN8 and SN9) had crashed on landing, in December, then in early February.
These tests are taking place in a near-deserted area leased by SpaceX, in the far south of Texas, near the border with Mexico and on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico – an area empty enough for an accident or explosion. does not cause damage or cause victims.
Elon Musk imagines one day launching several of these ships to conquer Mars. But initially, the rocket, if it became operational, could prove useful for closer trips, especially to the Moon.