By Staff

BOCA CHICA, TEXAS (CBSDFW/AP) – SpaceX’s latest Starship prototype, SN11 took to the Texas skies just fine March 30. It was returning to earth that there was a problem. The futuristic, bullet-shaped rocket broke apart right before touchdown at the test site near Boca Chica Village in South Texas.

SpaceX Starship SN11 explodes on impact after experiencing anomaly during landing sequence in Boca Chica, TX.(courtesy: NASA)

A camera on the rocket froze not quite six minutes into the test flight, and dense fog in South Texas obscured views of the ruptured rocket. Other video showed debris raining down and explosions were heard.

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SpaceX’s broadcast cameras cut out. “Looks like we’ve had another exciting test of Starship Number 11,” John Insprucker, launch commentator for SpaceX, said during the broadcast. “Starship 11 is not coming back, do not wait for the landing.”


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SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk tweeted that “at least the crater is in the right place!” He’s named the launch and landing area at the southeastern tip of Texas, near the Mexico border, Starbase.

This was the fourth full-scale stainless steel model to launch since December to an altitude of more than 6 miles. The previous three exploded at touchdown or shortly afterward.

“Another exciting test, as we say,” SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker said as he concluded the webcast.

SpaceX plans to use Starship to send astronauts and cargo to the moon and, ultimately, Mars. Musk said earlier this month that SpaceX will be landing Starships on Mars “well before 2030.” But he noted that “the really hard threshold is making Mars Base Alpha self-sustaining.”

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