*** ----> SpaceX’s megarocket Starship launches on fourth test flight | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

SpaceX’s megarocket Starship launches on fourth test flight

AFP | Boca Chica

The Daily Tribune - www.newsofbahrain.com

Starship, SpaceX’s massive prototype rocket, launched for its fourth test flight yesterday, and is now attempting to fly halfway around the globe before splashing down in the Indian Ocean. The most powerful launch system ever built blasted off from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas at 7:50 am (1250 GMT).

More than two million people followed along on a live stream on X. Starship is vital to both NASA’s plans for returning astronauts to the Moon later this decade, and for SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s hopes of one day colonizing Mars.

Three previous attempts have ended in its fiery destruction, all part of what the company says is an acceptable cost in its rapid trial-and-error approach to development. “The payload for these flight tests is data,” SpaceX posted on X.

“Building upon what we achieved during Starship’s third flight test, our primary goal today is to get through the extreme heat of reentry.” The flight path is similar to the third test, which took place in March and saw Starship fly for 49 minutes before it was eventually lost as it re-entered the atmosphere.

Since then SpaceX says it has made several software and hardware upgrades -- and for the first time ever yesterday succeeded in a soft splashdown for the Super Heavy booster in the Gulf of Mexico, to massive applause from engineers at mission control in Hawthorne in California. Next, it hopes to achieve its first “controlled entry” for the upper stage, which will glow a fiery red as it careens into the atmosphere at around 27,000 kilometers per hour (nearly 17,000 mph).