SpaceX has lost contact with its Starship mega rocket following a series of explosions yesterday during its second test flight.
The two-stage rocketship blasted off from a launch site near Boca Chica in Texas and travelled over the Gulf of Mexico.
It had been hoped that the Starship would reach an altitude of 150 miles before plunging into the Pacific near Hawaii 90 minutes after lift-off.
Mr Musk, who owns SpaceX, shared footage of the moment that the rocket took off and in the caption on Twitter, said: “Magnificent Machine with a 1000 ft plume.”
It had originally appeared to be successful but it exploded a short time later.
SpaceX’s livestream host John Insprucker said: “We have lost the data from the second stage... we think we may have lost the second stage.”
The first attempt ended in an explosion earlier this year.
Around eight minutes into the test mission, a camera tracking the rocket revealed an explosion that indicated the vehicle had failed on reaching an altitude of 91 miles.
The launch had originally been due to be staged on Friday but it was delayed for a last-minute change of flight-control hardware.
SpaceX said in a post on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter: “With a test like this, success comes from what we learn, and today’s test will help us improve Starship’s reliability as SpaceX seeks to make life multiplanetary.”
The mission’s objective was to launch Starship into space just shy of reaching orbit, before it plunged through the Earth’s atmosphere for a splashdown off Hawaii’s coast.
The launch was the second attempt to fly Starship into space, following an attempt in April that ended in an explosion about four minutes after lift-off.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which licensed the test flight, said there were no reported injuries or property damage.
The space regulator said: “A mishap occurred during the SpaceX Starship OFT-2 launch from Boca Chica, Texas, on Saturday, Nov 18. The anomaly resulted in a loss of the vehicle. No injuries or public property damage have been reported.”
The FAA said it will oversee a SpaceX-led investigation into the testing failure, and will need to approve SpaceX’s plan to prevent it from happening again.
Jim Free, an associate administrator at Nasa, said the test flight marked a step forward for Starship’s development programme.
Nasa is paying SpaceX more than $4bn for Starship. The space agency intends to use the spacecraft to land astronauts on the moon under its flagship Artemis programme.
A successful test would have marked a key step towards achieving SpaceX’s ambition of producing a large, multi-purpose spacecraft capable of sending people and cargo to the moon for Nasa, and ultimately to Mars.