TechWorld's largest rocket starship set for make-or-break test flight

World's largest rocket starship set for make-or-break test flight

Starship module test - illustrative photo
Starship module test - illustrative photo
Images source: © Licensor

8:37 AM EDT, June 6, 2024

If no unforeseen difficulties arise, the world's largest rocket will launch today, Thursday, June 6, after 8:00 AM Eastern Time. This will be Starship's fourth flight, and the event will be broadcast on YouTube.

Starship is scheduled to launch from a base in Texas. SpaceX has announced that the launch window for this fourth flight will open at 7:00 AM local time and last for two hours, which translates to 8:00 AM Eastern Time. The latest SpaceX updates indicate that the vehicle will launch at 8:50 AM Eastern Time. The plan includes reaching low Earth orbit and re-entry into the atmosphere.

Fourth starship flight

The complete Starship system measures 394 feet in height and consists of two stages. The first stage is 230 feet tall and is powered by 33 Raptor engines fueled by liquid methane and oxygen. The Starship vehicle is 164 feet tall, and 6 Raptor units power it.

The fourth flight will head east right after the start procedure begins. The plan assumes that the Starship will separate from the booster in less than 3 minutes after liftoff. SpaceX plans to discard the ring used to connect the two stages when the booster approaches for landing—this will help reduce mass and allow the booster to land in the ocean.

For Elon Musk's company, the fourth Starship mission is crucial to determining whether it is possible to fully recover both rocket stages after a successful flight. The main goal is to properly conduct the engine restart procedure in the Super Heavy booster and achieve a controlled re-entry of Starship into the atmosphere. SpaceX has made several changes to the rocket's components compared to previous missions, notably adding equipment to the liquid oxygen tanks that power the engines. The enhanced version of Starship also includes additional maneuvering engines.

Let's recall that during the previous test flight on March 14, 2024, Starship re-entered the atmosphere from space but was ultimately destroyed. Despite this, SpaceX engineers gathered a wealth of information that aided the company in making further improvements before this fourth flight. The last test also evaluated the opening and closing of the cargo bay and demonstrated the spacecraft's capability to handle fuel transfer in microgravity conditions.

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