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SpaceX Starship SN10 lands successfully, explodes minutes later

In its latest flight out of Boca Chica, TX, the SpaceX Starship SN10 rocket managed a successful landing, but blew up just moments after upright touchdown.


SpaceX has been working for a very long time at preparing a rocket that could not only take off, but also land intact on re-entry down to the surface of a planet. The long-term goal is to create a rocket capable of safely flying and landing safely on Mars, but SpaceX made some strides today. For one of the first times yet, a SpaceX Starship test flight managed to launch and then fall, reorient itself, and land upright successfully and seemingly safely at initial touchdown. It then exploded just seconds later on the ground.

SpaceX commenced the Starship SN10 test flight on March 3, 2021, in Boca China, Texas. The SN10 rocket’s purpose during the flight was to launch, fly 10 kilometers into the sky, and then freefall sideways in a “belly flop” orientation, reorient itself close to the ground, and land upright.

There was a slight delay on the flight due to fuel issues, but a few hours later, the Starship SN10 went live. The rocket accomplished much of its purpose. It even landed successfully upright in an impressive improvement from previous Starship test flights. However, it was a few seconds after landing the SN10 rocket exploded.

The reason for SpaceX Starship SN10’s explosion has not been officially cited, but there appears to have been some issues with the landing legs of the rocket not deploying as planned. Moreover, there was some flames visible at the base of the rocket upon touch down. Speculation suggests that perhaps the fire in conjunction with a methane vent from the rocket may have been the cause of the explosion.

Nonetheless, the SN10 test flight represents a major step forward for SpaceX. The latest launch went through the entire flight program, including the launch, the belly flop, the “flip and burn” in which it reoriented itself upright, and finally, an initially sound upright landing. This marks a major moment of progress over the previous SN9 launch, which exploded upon landing.

While there is still certainly progress to be made, SpaceX can likely cite major progress in results from today’s launch. It will be interesting to see if the next Starship, aptly named SN11, can reproduce the landing results and take further steps towards the long-term effort of putting a human being safely on Mars. Stay tuned for further SpaceX coverage and word of the SN11 test flight as it becomes available.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 3, 2021 4:00 PM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, SpaceX Starship SN10 lands successfully, explodes minutes later

    • reply
      March 3, 2021 8:03 PM

      Pretty awesome! Yeah, I knew something was going to happen after landing and stuck around to watch. I think the landing was a little harder than intended. It was so hard it bounced a little bit and was leaning to one side. Also, when SpaceX's stream zoomed in on SN10 after the landing its flaps were completely on the ground. The legs either didn't deploy correctly or they were totally crushed. With that hard of a landing, something was broken and leaking methane. That methane was collected and trapped inside the engine bay, which finally ignited. Maybe they need some sort of emergency venting from inside to the outside of the engine bay so it doesn't collect there.

      • reply
        March 4, 2021 3:33 AM

        Maybe they need some sort of emergency venting from inside to the outside of the engine bay so it doesn't collect there.
        You mean like actually standing on the legs, so it's an air-gap underneath the skirt ? I think that might work... lol

    • reply
      March 3, 2021 11:19 PM

      "but blew up just moments after upright touchdown."

      it was 8 minutes later

    • P90 legacy 10 years
      March 4, 2021 2:39 AM

      First paragraph and you already contradicted yourself from the title. Thanks for also spoiling the outcome of the launch in the title, AGAIN.

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