SpaceX launches new Starship test from South Texas

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The spacecraft, stacked atop its Super Heavy booster, lifted off at about 8:25 a.m. Thursday from SpaceX’s Starbase launch site in Boca Chica.

SpaceX launched its colossal Starship rocket on its third major test flight, aiming to improve on past attempts that ended prematurely in explosions.

The spacecraft, stacked atop its Super Heavy booster, lifted off at about 8:25 a.m. Thursday from SpaceX’s Starbase launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, according to a webcast on Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s X social media platform.Starship successfully separated from the booster and reached near-orbit in space, surpassing the length of its prior two test missions. The latest flight, which is ongoing, will continue part way around the Earth before it splashes down in the Indian Ocean.

Once fully operational, Starship will also be able to carry massive amounts of cargo, as well as launch the company’s much larger Starlink internet satellites.Each of the prior launches — the first in April 2023 and second in November — ended with Starship blowing up, leading to FAA investigations examining the rocket’s systems in order to protect public safety and lessen environmental impacts.

The closely held aerospace company, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., doesn’t typically view in-flight failures during a rocket’s development as major setbacks, but rather learning moments that help develop its vehicles further. Regardless of the outcome of the latest mission, SpaceX still has a long way to go until people can take trips to Mars. Those items include figuring out life support systems, how to refuel Starship in orbit and how to land the spacecraft in one piece.With the third flight, SpaceX is trying to perform a number of secondary objectives in space, such as opening the cargo bay door and reigniting Starship’s Raptor engines.

 

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