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SpaceX’s Super Heavy Starship Launch 4th flight test

SpaceX’s Super Heavy Starship Launch rocket 4th flight test are completed,

To send the company’s Starship upper stage into space and then return it through the heat of re-entry for a controlled splashdown in the Indian Ocean, SpaceX launched the most powerful rocket in the world on its fourth voyage on Thursday morning.

The massive Super Heavy first-stage booster was to power the Starship out of the lower atmosphere and then descend in a controlled manner to a “soft” landing in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the flight plan. The launch happened at SpaceX’s “Starbase” facility in Boca Chica, Texas. It was anticipated that the mission would take one hour and five minutes to complete.

With more than twice the liftoff thrust of the Space Shuttle, NASA’s storied Saturn 5 rocket from the Apollo program, and the Space Launch System rocket intended for the agency’s Artemis moon rocket, the 39-story-tall Super Heavy-Starship rocket is unquestionably the most potent launcher in the world.
Driven by thirty-three Raptor engines that burn methane, the Super Heavy booster, standing 230 feet tall, produces an incredible 16 million pounds of thrust. Its purpose is to launch the top stage of the Starship out of the lower atmosphere and then fall away for a rocket-powered descent to land, be repaired, and be reused.

The 160-foot-tall Starship can land tail-first on the moon, on Mars, or even back on Earth. It is propelled by six Raptors and is totally reusable.

But during the Super Heavy-Starship’s first test flights, recovery was out of the question. The objective was to “simply” return both stages, undamaged and under control, to the lower atmosphere. Both stages of the flight on Thursday were designed to try rocket-powered descents that mirrored real landing techniques. On collision, though, both were predicted to sink.

“The fourth flight test turns our focus from achieving orbit to demonstrating the ability to return and reuse Starship and Super Heavy,” SpaceX stated on its website. “The primary objectives will be executing a landing burn and soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico with the Super Heavy booster, and achieving a controlled entry of Starship.”
The Super Heavy and Starship stages experienced catastrophic failures during the three prior flights—two in 2023 and the most recent in March—before all of the test objectives could be completed. However, SpaceX made software and hardware improvements with every flight, which significantly increased performance.

During the third test flight, the upper stage of Starship successfully entered space, circled the Earth, and started a prearranged drop across the Indian Ocean before disintegrating in the high atmosphere. Before losing control, the super-heavy booster managed to return to the lower atmosphere over the Gulf of Mexico.
However, SpaceX declared the flight a complete success and made additional adjustments to boost efficiency for Thursday’s test.

A regular flight schedule for the Super Heavy Starship is essential to NASA’s Artemis lunar program. To create a version of the Starship upper stage that can transport people from lunar orbit to the surface and back, NASA gave SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract in 2021. Artemis personnel will use Orion capsules made by Lockheed Martin to get to and from the moon.

Spacex's super heavy starship launch 4th flight test
Spacex's super heavy starship launch 4th flight test 1

 It will take several Super Heavy tanker flights to reach the moon to robotically refuel a Starship upper stage currently in low-Earth orbit. After that, the Starship lander will launch itself into lunar orbit to wait for the Artemis moonwalkers.
According to NASA’s contract, before astronauts attempt a real landing, there must be one unpiloted lunar landing test flight. By late 2026, the first astronaut lunar landing is aimed for by Artemis managers.

However, for SpaceX to prove its dependability, more Super Heavy-Starship flights must be completed. Although SpaceX’s guiding principle is to fly often, learn from its failures, and then try again, NASA will need to see several successful flights before deciding it is safe to send astronauts into space.

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