SpaceX Starship prototype rocket SN10 sticks landing, but then explodes

SpaceX's Starship SN10 successfully launched in the US on Wednesday (local time) and soared to an altitude of around 10km before successfully coming to a landing back on Earth.

However, it exploded into a spectacular fireball shortly thereafter.

The prototype rocket of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's company stuck the landing after previous versions, the SN8 and SN9, exploded on impact.

The self-guided, 16-storey-tall rocket soared into the sky above Texas with what appeared to be a flawless lift-off livestreamed on the SpaceX YouTube channel

After reaching its targeted altitude, SN10 began a fall or 'belly flop' for a simulated re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. Once close to the surface it fired its engines back up to perform a flip manoeuvre and make its vertical landing. 

"A controlled aerodynamic descent with body flaps and vertical landing capability, combined with in-space refilling, are critical to landing Starship at destinations across the solar system where prepared surfaces or runways do not exist, and returning to Earth," says SapceX.

"This capability will enable a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo on long-duration, interplanetary flights and help humanity return to the Moon, and travel to Mars and beyond."

It's not yet been announced why SN10 exploded, but its successful landing means humans are a step closer to landing on Mars.