Home News SpaceX’s Starship Achieves Breakthrough Ocean Landing in Fourth Test Flight

SpaceX’s Starship Achieves Breakthrough Ocean Landing in Fourth Test Flight

SpaceX Starship
SpaceX Starship [Source: SpaceX]

SpaceX’s Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, launched from its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on Thursday—this fourth test flight of 2024 achieved milestones that showcased the vehicle’s potential reusability. The launch occurred at 7:50 a.m. CT (1:50 p.m. WAT), with millions of viewers tuning in to the live stream on X (formerly Twitter).

The Starship launch system comprises the upper Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy booster. During the launch, 32 of the rocket’s 33 engines ignited. The test focused on demonstrating the vehicle’s ability to return and be reused. After separating from the spacecraft, the Super Heavy booster successfully executed a landing burn and splashed softly in the Gulf of Mexico approximately eight minutes after launch.

Despite losing many tiles and a damaged flap, Starship made it to a soft landing in the ocean! Congratulations @SpaceX team on an epic achievement!! posted SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk on X.

The Starship spacecraft, covered with about 18,000 lightweight ceramic hexagonal tiles to protect it during reentry, survived its return to Earth and splashdown in the Indian Ocean. This test marks a significant step in SpaceX’s goal of creating a fully and rapidly reusable rocket system.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson celebrated the achievement, stating,

Congratulations @SpaceX on Starship’s successful test flight this morning! We are another step closer to returning humanity to the Moon through #Artemis—then looking onward to Mars.

This test flight follows three previous attempts that destroyed the vehicle. However, SpaceX’s strategy of real-world testing has reportedly advanced its technology. The Starship system is crucial for NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the Moon by 2026 and for Elon Musk’s vision of colonising Mars. SpaceX Spacecraft stands 397 feet tall, with the Super Heavy booster producing 16.7 million pounds of thrust.

SpaceX has been successful with its Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon capsules, which have become essential for NASA and commercial operations. The company now faces the challenge of proving Starship’s reliability and safety for future crewed missions, including NASA’s Artemis program. In a similar space development, Boeing finally launched its historic Starliner.

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