SpaceX Successfully Launches Starship During Third Test

Key Takeaways

  • SpaceX's Starship overcomes past failures, successfully reaching space.
  • Starship's ascent from Boca Chica marks a significant milestone in its development.
  • SpaceX has lost its spaceship as it fell to Earth on its way back.

UPD: SpaceX has lost its spaceship as it fell to Earth on its way back, presumably into the Indian Ocean.

SpaceX’s Starship rocket has successfully entered space after its first two test flights ended in explosions shortly after takeoff.

Starship took off at 9:25 am ET from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. This third trial saw the Starship prototype survive the ascent and embark on its journey towards a designated splashdown zone in the Indian Ocean.

This time, the spacecraft successfully separated from its Super Heavy booster during a critical hot-staging maneuver. It demonstrated operational capabilities by opening a payload door, a step forward in its potential role for deploying satellites, including those for the Starlink network.

According to SpaceX, the Starship is currently in a “coast phase” and is preparing for an in-space ignition of its Raptor engines, expected around 40 minutes into its flight.

Starship’s Failed Launch Attempts

The previous two Starship tests resulted in dramatic failures.

On April 20 last year, the first ended in a fireball four minutes after launch. On November 18, the second saw some improvement, with the Starship reaching orbit before likely self-destructing after loss of contact despite the Superheavy booster’s explosion.

The latest attempt received the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval just one day before liftoff, indicating SpaceX had addressed safety, environmental, and policy standards.

The FAA mandated 17 specific improvements after SpaceX’s second test, focusing on vehicle redesigns and safety measures. This was a reduction from the 63 actions following the first failed launch that demonstrated SpaceX’s progress in addressing the FAA’s safety concerns.