Propelled by three Raptor engines, the rocket then flipped to its side and plummetted to the ground in free fall – a manoeuvre dubbed “the belly flop”.
Just before SN8 reached the ground, it flipped upright again and fired its engines in a bid to decelerate enough for a smooth landing.
Instead, the rocket failed to slow down enough and went up in a ball of flames.
At first glance, it might appear as though the explosive crash landing will throw a spanner in the works for the Starship programme.
But according to Dr Hugh Grant, a reader in Engineering Dynamics and Vibration at the University of Cambridge, the explosion was anything but a disaster.