A prototype of a SpaceX rocket on Tuesday crashed in a fiery explosion as it tried to land upright after a test flight, AFP reports.

This was the second such explosion after the last prototype of Starship met a similar fate in December.

"We had again another great flight," said a SpaceX announcer on live footage that was broadcast online. "We've just got to work on that landing a little bit," he added.

The rocket, dubbed SN9, was cleared for lift-off from Boca Chica, Texas by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which had earlier delayed granting authorization after determining that SpaceX's last launch violated the terms of its license.

The rocket launched smoothly around 3:30 p.m. local time and progressively shut down its engines as it reached a height of 10 kilometers, then performed a series of test maneuvers in a horizontal "belly flop" position.

When the rocket attempted to return to a vertical position for landing, however, it came in much too fast and at a bad angle.

It landed with a deafening crash, and exploded into bright orange flames and a dust cloud. The fire did not spread.

Last May, SpaceX had a successful launch of its Crew Dragon capsule, which took astronauts to the International Space Station.

In November, SpaceX launched four astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station, marking NASA’s first full-fledged mission sending a crew into orbit aboard a privately owned spacecraft.