Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship - the biggest and most powerful space rocket ever developed - has exploded minutes after blasting off.
The launch, which took place from SpaceX’s Starbase in the US state of Texas, came after a stuck valve forced a launch attempt on Monday to be aborted.
While Thursday’s launch saw the rocket leave the launch pad and ascend into the sky, the first and second stages of the launch vehicle failed to separate, ending the mission with a bang.
The Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket - collectively referred to as Starship - both appeared to flip in the air a number of times before disappearing in a fireball over the ocean about four minutes after lift-off.Mr Musk tweeted: “Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship! Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months. “
It added that lessons learned from the mission will help improve Starship’s reliability.
The SpaceX Starship lifts off from the launchpad during a short but historic flight test
The stainless steel Starship is 120 metres tall, has 33 engines and 16.7 million pounds of thrust.
There were no people or satellites on board the test flight.
The spacecraft self-destructs after liftoff
Nasa has reserved a Starship for its next moonwalking team, and would-be space tourists can book lunar fly-bys.
Before launch, SpaceX tweeted: “With a test such as this, success is measured by how much we can learn, which will inform and improve the probability of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances development of Starship.”