SpaceX SN11 Rocket Fails to Land, Live Stream Video Shows Debris Raining Down

SpaceX's Starship SN11 mission has ended with failure after the rocket did not touch down on the landing pad.

The official SpaceX live stream was hit with connection issues and the situation was made even less clear by a thick blanket of fog around the pad.

The live stream, which had cameras attached to the rocket itself, cut out at 5 minutes and 49 seconds into the mission as SN11 reignited its engines for the landing burn.

The camera then cut off and did not reconnect. SpaceX live stream commentator John Insprucker said shortly afterwards: "Starship 11 is not coming back; don't wait for the landing. We do appear to have lost all the data from the vehicle."

It was not immediately clear what happened to the rocket and the fog meant that additional cameras pointed to the landing pad from a distance struggled to get a clear view.

However, space news outlet NASASpaceFlight captured what appeared to be an in-air explosion on one of their own live stream cameras situated near the landing pad. The entire live stream footage is below.

The camera did not capture the explosion directly, but footage clearly shows a bright flash of orange above the frame. Seconds later, large pieces of debris can be seen raining down onto the landing pad.

NASASpaceFlight hosts said the rocket "did not come back in one piece."

Elon Musk acknowledged the landing failure soon afterwards and appeared to take it in good humour.

He tweeted: "At least the crater is in the right place," and "a high production rate solves many ills."

Musk said one of the rocket's engines had issues on the ascent, and on the way down it failed to achieve the correct pressure it needed to work properly.

Musk also said "something significant happened shortly after landing burn start," possibly referring to the apparent explosion captured by ground-based cameras, but did not explain further. "Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today."

At least the crater is in the right place!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021

SpaceX has not confirmed what happened to the rocket or what caused the landing failure. Newsweek has contacted SpaceX for comment.

The next Starship launch, SN15, rolls to the launchpad in a few days with "hundreds of improvements," Musk added.

SN11 has become the fourth Starship prototype to explode. Its predecessors, SN8, SN9, and SN10, all blew up on or shortly after landing.

Landing appears to be the difficult part; all the missions so far, including SN11, have seen the rocket prototypes successfully take off and perform the necessary "belly flop" maneuver before heading back to Earth.

SpaceX hopes the SN prototypes will eventually become Starship; a spacecraft capable of taking humans to the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX logo on hangar
The SpaceX hangar on Pad 39A on March 1, 2019, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 1, 2019. The company has now launched four high-altitude SN prototypes but has yet to successfully recover one. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty