After three unsuccessful attempts, SpaceX’s new prototype Starship rocket crashed again on Tuesday during its fourth test lap, company founder Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter.
“Something important happened” at the time of descent, he wrote. “We should know what it was as soon as we can examine the fragments later in the day,” Musk said, jokingly adding, “At least the crater is in the right place!”
The SN11 rocket was launched from the company’s South Texas facility around the afternoon and began its 10-kilometer ascent, experiencing some video glitches.
SN11 is the 11th prototype Starship, which SpaceX hopes will one day be capable of flying manned missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
It was also the fourth to perform a flight test that tried to return to the ground for a soft vertical landing.
The SN8 and SN9, which were launched in December and February respectively, crashed on landing and exploded, while the SN10 managed to land successfully but exploded within minutes of the test on March 3.
Despite these failures, analysts believe that SpaceX is collecting valuable data that can help accelerate the development of its space program.
Eventually, SpaceX plans to combine the Starship spacecraft with a Super Heavy rocket, creating a fully reusable team.
This final version will stand 120 meters high and will be able to carry 100 metric tons into Earth’s orbit, the most powerful launch vehicle ever developed.