SpaceX rocket destroyed in dramatic fireball during testing

Just days ahead of SpaceX's rescheduled mission to launch astronauts into orbit, a different rocket has exploded into a dramatic ball of fire during an engine test. 

The unmanned Starship SN4 prototype is designed with the hopes of making the colonisation and exploration of Mars, the Moon and beyond possible. 

According to SpaceX, the spacecraft and rocket, which are collectively referred to as Starship, will be "the world's most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit." 

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However, today's testing in Texas was anything but smooth after the rocket caught alight during its fifth static fire test, the third using a Raptor engine. 

SN4 had been the most successful thus far of SpaceX's Starship prototypes, the first to pass the cryogenic proofing tests after the SN3 collapsed at the beginning of April. 

Despite first appearing to be another successful test, just seconds later the prototype is engulfed in flames, completely destroying the rocket. 

This comes as two astronauts prepare to launch into orbit in the spaceflight company's crewed mission tomorrow after bad weather delayed the initial launch. 

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The rocket used in that launch will be the Crew Dragon, which was successfully launched last year in a practice without crew members.