SpaceX has launched its Starship rocket system, the biggest and most powerful ever made, for the first time in a landmark test.
Three days after an inaugural flight was scrapped due to a last-minute glitch, it blasted off from Boca Chica in southern Texas as thousands of spectators watched on nearby.
But the rocket system failed to separate as planned, exploding minutes into its flight.
SpaceX said Starship experienced a “rapid, unscheduled disassembly before stage separation”.
However, officials still declared the mission a success, as it marked the first time Starship and its booster rocket had taken flight.
Starship is made up of two stages – a Super Heavy booster that generates the needed power to reach orbit, and the spacecraft tipped to one day take humans back to the moon and eventually Mars.
Combined, the craft and booster – which has 33 rocket engines – have a record-setting height of 120m.
It was hoped Thursday’s test would see the craft separate from the booster and complete a full orbit of the Earth.