While the flight initially appeared to be successful, seeing the Starship soar some 10 kilometers high and make a flip maneuver before touching down softly – it was visibly leaning upon landing and a small fire was seen at its base.
— Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) March 3, 2021
While it remains unclear what caused the failure, a launch attempt earlier on Wednesday was aborted with less than one second on the clock before liftoff, seeing the Starship’s engines ignite briefly before the trial was temporarily halted. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the abort was triggered automatically due to an issue with the rocket’s “thrust limit,” adding that it had been addressed and that the company would make another attempt.
An amazing shot of Starship SN10's post-landing Rapid Unplanned Disassembly (RUD) after Wednesday's test flight.
— Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) March 3, 2021
The SN10’s predecessors, the SN8 and SN9, both met similarly explosive ends while attempting vertical landings during previous test flights. According to SpaceX, the upright landing capability “will enable a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration,” including for “interplanetary flights” and “travel to Mars and beyond.”