SpaceX completes 4th test flight of Starship megarocket

SpaceX’s Starship, the most powerful rocket in the world, lifted off on its fourth test flight Thursday from Texas.

Powered by 32 of its 33 engines, the nearly 400-foot tall, uncrewed Starship launched at 7:50 a.m. CDT, according to the company and CNN.

Starship survives 4th test flight

Update 10:25 a.m. EDT June 6: Starship splashed down as planned in the Indian Ocean on Thursday morning after blasting off from SpaceX’s facility in Texas.

Company officials confirmed splashdown just before 9 a.m. CDT.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson congratulated the company on its successful test flight in a post on social media.

“We are another step closer to returning humanity to the Moon through #Artemis—then looking onward to Mars,” he wrote, referencing the agency’s multibillion dollar program aimed at sending astronauts back to the moon later this decade.

Original report: Starship is expected to reach orbit before returning to Earth and splashing down in the Indian Ocean later Thursday.

During the flight, SpaceX — which is owned by Elon Musk — said it will focus on demonstrating the reusability of its Super Heavy booster and Starship spacecraft, which are collectively known as Starship.

“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,” company officials said.

SpaceX reuses its Falcon 9 rocket booster, but not the second stage, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper added that Starship is intended to be fully reusable.

“The fourth flight of Starship will aim to bring us closer to the rapidly reusable future on the horizon,” SpaceX officials said in a series of social media posts.

“We’re continuing to rapidly develop Starship, putting flight hardware in a flight environment to learn as quickly as possible as we build a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.”

NASA earlier ordered two Starships for a pair of planned moon-landing missions by astronauts later this decade, The Associated Press reported. Crews are expected to leave Earth on NASA rockets and capsules but meet up with Starship in lunar orbit and use them to return to the surface, according to the news agency.

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