SpaceX’s Fourth Starship Test Flight Could Launch On June 5th

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Key Takeaways

  • SpaceX now expects its fourth Starship test flight to launch on June 5th, if it gets approval.
  • The mission will gauge the ability to return both Starship and its Super Heavy booster.
  • The test is crucial for NASA's Moon program.

SpaceX now expects its fourth Starship test flight to launch “as soon as” June 5th, provided it gets regulatory approval.

This next test will focus on returning both Starship and the Super Heavy rocket. Super Heavy will ideally splash down in the Gulf of Mexico, while the company will be happy with a “controlled entry” of Starship and a splashdown in the Indian Ocean.

The third test, in March, was the first time Starship reentered the atmosphere from space, opened its payload doors in space, and transferred propellant. SpaceX lost communication with Starship on reentry, and later determined that a filter blockage was likely responsible for sub-par landing burn thrust.

SpaceX’s first two test flights ended with Starship exploding shortly after launch.

Elon Musk’s firm has made “several” hardware and software improvements in anticipation of the fourth test. Certain procedures will also change. SpaceX now plans to jettison Super Heavy’s hot-stage after the boostback burn to reduce its mass for the last flight phase.

Much depends on this test. SpaceX plays a key role in NASA’s Artemis program for returning to the Moon, with a Starship HLS lander set to bring humans to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. That Artemis III mission isn’t expected any earlier than September 2026, but SpaceX needs to show that it can safely return Starship well before then.

Starship is also central to SpaceX’s tourism plans, which currently involve lunar orbits. The company eventually hopes to fly to Mars “and beyond,” and is expected to develop a Moon cargo lander variant of Starship for later Artemis spaceflights.