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SpaceX Launches Starship to Space in Third Flight Test

SpaceX starship third test flight
Starship launch, Credit: SpaceX

Ibadan, 15 March 2024. – SpaceX has launched the Starship rocket into orbit on its third flight test, getting farther than the first and second test flights before eventually succumbing and disintegrating in Earth’s upper atmosphere during reentry.

The first and second Starship test flights both ended explosively as the vehicles exploded before the completion of each flight’s mission objectives. Before Starship disintergrated in the upper atmosphere, mission control had lost communication with the rocket from two satellite systems simultaneously. The rocket aimed for a planned splashdown in the Indian Ocean before it disintegrated.

Despite the disintegration, SpaceX was able to complete some of its primary mission objectives. The objectives included a repeat of successful stage separation during initial ascent, the first test of Starship’s ability to open and close its payload door in orbit, and the transfer of super-cooled rocket propellant from one tank to another during spaceflight. However, SpaceX skipped the engine re-ignition test before failing to fly the Super Heavy rocket back to Earth.

Starship’s heavy booster was also lost during the mission as its engines failed to light up for the landing burn. The booster aimed for a soft splashdown into the Gulf of Mexico after successfully separating from its upper stage and reversing its velocity.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson congratulated SpaceX for the successful test flight, saying, “Starship has soared into the heavens. Together, we are making great strides through Artemis to return humanity to the Moon — then look onward to Mars.” Starship is critical to NASA’s Artemis program, especially the Artemis 3 mission, which aims to land humans back on the moon in 2026. Furthermore, SpaceX intends to use the vehicle to deploy the next generation of its Starlink internet satellites.

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