24/7 Space News
In first, SpaceX's megarocket Starship nails ocean splashdown
In first, SpaceX's megarocket Starship nails ocean splashdown
By Chandan Khanna with Issam Ahmed in Washington
Boca Chica, United States (AFP) June 6, 2024

SpaceX's massive Starship rocket achieved its first ever splashdown during a test flight Thursday, in a major milestone for the prototype system that may one day send humans to Mars.

Scraps of fiery debris came flying off the spaceship as it descended over the Indian Ocean northwest of Australia, dramatic video from an onboard camera showed, but it ultimately held together and survived atmospheric reentry.

"Despite loss of many tiles and a damaged flap, Starship made it all the way to a soft landing in the ocean!" SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on X.

"Today was a great day for humanity's future as a spacefaring civilization!" he added.

The most powerful rocket ever built blasted off from the company's Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, at 7:50 am (1250 GMT), before soaring to space and coasting halfway across the globe, for a journey that lasted around an hour and six minutes.

With its fully reusable design, Starship is essential to fulfilling Musk's ambitious vision of colonizing the Red Planet and making humankind a multiplanetary species.

NASA meanwhile has contracted a modified version of Starship to act as the final vehicle that will take astronauts down to the surface of the Moon under the Artemis program later this decade.

- Trial-and-error approach -

Three previous test flights had ended in Starship's 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 said on X, a mantra repeated by the commentary team throughout the flight.

The next challenge is to develop a "fully and immediately reusable orbital heat shield," said Musk, vowing further tests to learn how to make Starship better withstand careening into the atmosphere at around 27,000 kilometers per hour (nearly 17,000 mph).

About seven-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, the first stage booster, called Super Heavy, succeeded in an upright splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico, to massive applause from engineers at mission control in Hawthorne, California.

The cheers grew even louder in the flight's final minutes. Ground teams whooped and hollered as the upper stage glowed a fiery red, the result of a plasma field generated by the friction of the vehicle streaking through the atmosphere.

Space fans around the world watched in awe, thanks to a live broadcast powered by SpaceX's vast constellation of Starlink internet satellites.

A chunk of flying debris even cracked the camera lens, but in the end, Starship stuck the landing.

"Congratulations SpaceX on Starship's successful test flight this morning!" NASA chief Bill Nelson wrote on X. "We are another step closer to returning humanity to the Moon through #Artemis -- then looking onward to Mars."

- Twice as powerful as Apollo rocket -

Starship stands 397 feet (121 meters) tall with both stages combined -- 90 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.

Its Super Heavy booster produces 16.7 million pounds (74.3 Meganewtons) of thrust, about twice as powerful as the Saturn V rockets used during the Apollo missions, and later versions should be more powerful still.

SpaceX's strategy of carrying out tests in the real world rather than in labs has paid off in the past.

Its Falcon 9 rockets have come to be workhorses for NASA and the commercial sector, its Dragon capsule sends astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station, and its Starlink internet satellite constellation now covers dozens of countries.

But the clock is ticking for SpaceX to be ready for NASA's planned return of astronauts to the Moon in 2026.

To do this, SpaceX will need to first place a primary Starship in orbit, then use multiple "Starship tankers" to fill it up with supercooled fuel for the onward journey -- a complex engineering feat that has never before been accomplished.

China is planning its own crewed lunar mission in 2030, and has recently had a better track record than the United States of adhering to its timelines.

Related Links
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
ready to fly,' as SpaceX prepares for fourth test launch in Texas
Washington DC (UPI) Jun 5, 2024
SpaceX is gearing up to launch Starship's fourth test flight just after sunrise Thursday from Texas, two days after the Federal Aviation Administration gave the mega rocket a license to fly. "The FAA has approved a license authorization for SpaceX Starship Flight 4," the agency said in a statement Tuesday. "SpaceX met all safety and other licensing requirements for this test flight." "Targeting Thursday, June 6 for Starship's fourth flight test," SpaceX wrote in a post. "A 120-minute lau ... read more

Ohio State students to test space food solutions for NASA

US and Germany double down on space exploration

NASA and Boeing Advance Starliner Tests with Crew at Space Station

Virgin Galactic completes final spaceflight before two-year pause

Rocket Lab plans 50th Electron mission to deploy five satellites for Kineis

Boeing Starliner crew aboard ISS after challenging docking

In first, SpaceX's megarocket Starship nails ocean splashdown

European Consortium Receives euro 15M for Inflatable Heat Shield Development

Water frost discovered on Mars' tallest volcanoes

Frost discovered on top of giant Mars volcanoes

New analysis suggests lack of subglacial lake on Mars

NASA Observes Mars Illuminated During Major Solar Storm

Ten make the cut for China's fourth batch of astronauts

China sees commercial sector as next frontier in US space race

China announces first astronaut candidates from Hong Kong, Macau

China Open to Space Collaboration with the US

Yahsat Contracts Airbus for New Al Yah Satellites

Nara Space Secures $14.5M Series B to Expand Satellite Fleet

China launches multi-functional communication satellite for Pakistan

CGI works on new interfaces for European Space Agency to expand satellite communications market

Over 40 Entities Join the Zero Debris Charter

10 Benefits of Using 360Learning for Your Company's Learning Needs

Where is the Best Place to Buy Used Books?

Security considerations in flight launcher software

Webb Telescope Reveals Asteroid Collision In Neighboring Star System

Small, cool and sulfurous exoplanet may help write recipe for planetary formation

Planet-forming Disks Around Low-mass Stars Show Unique Characteristics

Clemson grad student's study sheds light on planet formation in infant stars

Understanding Cyclones on Jupiter Through Oceanography

Unusual Ion May Influence Uranus and Neptune's Magnetic Fields

NASA's Europa Clipper Arrives in Florida for Launch Preparation

New Earth-Based Telescope Images of Jupiter's Moon Io Match Spacecraft Quality

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.