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SpaceX’s Starship completes fourth test flight

SpaceX’s Starship completes fourth test flight

Starship Flight

SpaceX’s Starship rocket launched from its Starbase in Texas on Thursday morning. This was the fourth test flight for the massive craft. The launch took place around 8 a.m. CT.

The Starship went into space even though one of its 33 engines failed shortly after liftoff. The rocket made it to the edge of space and came back to Earth safely. This test flight was a big step forward.

Both the Starship and its “super heavy” booster are made to be used more than once. They showed better performance this time. The booster separated from the spacecraft and landed gently in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Starship itself spent about an hour high up in the atmosphere before starting to come back down. As it was coming back, one of the control flaps partly melted because of the intense heat. This made debris cloud the camera watching it.

The lens even cracked. But the spacecraft still managed to turn vertical and land in the ocean like it was supposed to. The Starship is the biggest rocket ever built when it’s put together with its booster.

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It’s nearly 400 feet tall. That’s taller than the famous Saturn V rockets. Starship is made of stainless steel to be extra tough and possibly reusable.

Starship’s fourth flight progress

This is important for SpaceX’s big plans, like going to Mars and helping with NASA’s Artemis program. SpaceX has been making the spacecraft better bit by bit through test flights.

The first test in April 2023 ended in a crash over the Gulf of Mexico. But each test after that got a little better. By the third test, Starship made it to its planned orbit before having problems coming back down.

For this fourth launch, they made some technical improvements. They added more thrusters to help it roll and changed things to make the engines relight more reliably. The heat shield was mostly in one piece, even though it was missing a few tiles to test how it handles heat.

One fin partly broke apart and one engine failed, but the mission is still seen as a big success. Space experts are impressed with the progress. Jonathan McDowell from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory said bringing back both the spacecraft and its booster in one piece is a major achievement.

“It surpassed my expectations,” said Laura Forczyk, who runs a space consulting company called Astralytical. Starship isn’t quite ready to carry things to orbit yet, but this test flight showed that important parts of SpaceX’s vision for Starship can work. “I think they’re legitimately pretty happy with this flight,” McDowell added.

To celebrate the heat of re-entry, SpaceX engineers Kate Tice and Jessica Anderson roasted marshmallows as the webcast ended. They promised more test flights soon. “Just like Starship, I like this toasty,” Tice joked.

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This fourth test flight shows that SpaceX is making steady progress. They’re working towards a spacecraft that can be used over and over, one that could help us explore other planets and greatly expand the Starlink satellite network.

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