SpaceX moon rocket explodes after test launch

SpaceX's Starship moon rocket exploded on Tuesday while attempting to land minutes after it launched in south Texas.

This marks the company's second prototype explosion in just three months.

The Starship SN9 was a test model of a heavy-lift rocket being developed by Elon Musk's private space company.

It's designed to carry humans and 100 tons of cargo on missions to the moon and Mars.

The 16-story-tall rocket soared into the sky without issues.

It hovered in midair as it reached its peak altitude 6 miles above its launch pad.

As it descended, one of the three thrusters failed to ignite and fell rapidly to the ground.

Six and a half minutes after liftoff, the SN9 exploded into a ball of flames, smoke and debris just like the SN8 before it when in December, the Starship's first prototype met a similar fate.

No injuries occurred in either incident.

Musk did not provide an immediate comment, and said earlier on Twitter he was going to be off the social media platform "for a while."

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that it would investigate Tuesday's explosion fueling tension between the agency and Musk.

The FAA had investigated December's launch saying it did not meet public safety standards, but approved Tuesday's test to take place after what it called "corrective actions."

Last week, Musk criticized the agency's space division in a tweet, saying:

"The FAA space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure. Their rules are meant for a handful of expendable launches per year from a few government facilities. Under those rules, humanity will never get to Mars."

SpaceX intends to launch the Starship's first orbital flight by the end of the year and by 2023, Musk has said he'll fly his first passenger around the moon.