The flight was planned to check the integrity of the gargantuan metal body of SN8 (Starship number 8) and its three engines for their aerodynamics, during launch and landing which happens vertically on the same principle as that of the pioneering Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX launched its shiny, bullet-shaped, straight-out-of-science fiction Starship several miles into the air from a remote corner of Texas on Wednesday, but the 6 1/2-minute test flight ended in an explosive fireball at touchdown.
The launch of a SpaceX experimental rocket ended in a fiery crash on Wednesday in the US state of Texas.
On Twitter, Musk gave reasons for the test failure, saying that the rocket's "fuel header tank pressure was low" during its descent, "causing touchdown velocity to be high".
Despite the explosion, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the unmanned test flight was a success and his team got all the data it needed.
You can see the SN8 test flight in the video below. Previous tests involving Starhopper, SN5, and SN6, only reached a maximum altitude of 500 feet, and were relatively primitive compared to SN8, which was the first test vehicle to feature a nose cone and working flaps. It was an early developmental model of Starship, a 160-foot-tall spaceship proposed by Musk that he hopes will be used for hauling massive satellites into Earth's orbit, shuttling people between cities at breakneck speeds and - eventually - establishing a human settlement on Mars. When it touched down, however, the rocketship became engulfed in flames and ruptured, parts scattering.
The prototype experienced a "hard landing" after its successful ascent, a ideal flip maneuver to position itself for a landing before it exploded, seconds after touching the ground. Its Raptor engine is a reusable methalox staged-combustion engine that powers the Starship launch system.
The entire flight lasted just over six minutes and 40 seconds. Raptor engines began flight testing on the Starship prototype rockets in July 2019, becoming the first full-flow staged combustion rocket engine ever flown. The engines were restarted just seconds before landing in an effort to slow the ship, but it crashed hard into the Earth. The test flight is part of the aerospace company's mission to land on Mars.
The three companies are vying for future contracts to build the moon landers under NASA's Artemis programme, which calls for a series of human lunar explorations within the next decade. But the company left unclear whether the rocket had flown that high.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Meizawa is now planning to pay an undeclared sum to take the starship to orbit the moon in 2023 - initially.