AceShowbiz - Elon Musk's test rocket has exploded within minutes of launch. The billionaire businessman's SpaceX had called off a launch of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built earlier this week because of a pressurisation issue but, on Thursday, April 20, the 120-metre Starship rocket took off from Texas at around 8.33 AM.
Before eventually exploding around four minutes after it left the ground, it gathered speed before spinning.
SpaceX - who had previously insisted the chances of success were low and the launch was a data-gathering exercise - tweeted, "As if the flight test was not exciting enough, Starship experienced a rapid unscheduled disassembly before stage separation."
And Elon himself posted, "Congrats @SpaceX team on an exciting test launch of Starship! Learned a lot for next test launch in a few months."
It appeared the two sections of the rocket system, the booster and cruise vessel, were unable to separate properly after takeoff.
However, it is not currently known if the spacecraft then exploded as a result of the malfunction or if a Flight Termination System - a failsafe which destroys the rocket to prevent it from veering too far off course - had been activated.
Starship was supposed to blast 150 miles into the atmosphere and then cruise for around an hour before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
Despite only getting around 25 miles into the air, NASA - who have chosen the rocket for a planned 2025 mission to the moon - congratulated Elon and his company.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, "Every great achievement throughout history has demanded some level of calculated risk, because with great risk comes great reward. Looking forward to all that SpaceX learns, to the next flight test - and beyond."
While the test rocket was unmanned, the Starship cruise vessel is designed to eventually carry up to 100 astronauts.