WATCH LIVE at 8:50 a.m.: SpaceX launches Starship on 4th flight test from Texas

SpaceX is targeting Thursday morning for the fourth flight test of its gargantuan Starship launch vehicle in Texas.

Liftoff is currently set for 8:50 EDT at Starbase, located near Boca Chica, according to SpaceX’s social media. Weather conditions are 95% favorable for the launch, the post states.

Now targeting 7:50 a.m. CT for launch of Starship’s fourth flight test. Weather conditions are 95% favorable. The webcast will go live ~30 minutes ahead of liftoff → https://t.co/bJFjLCiTbK pic.twitter.com/Qf8bnsvysd

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 6, 2024

Starship’s third flight test in March sent the reflective rocket soaring across the Gulf of Mexico. SpaceX lost contact with Starship 49 minutes into the flight test as it neared splashdown in the Indian Ocean, which was its ultimate goal.

The launch vehicle’s booster — though it seamlessly separated from the spacecraft — plummeted into the Gulf while Starship went on to reach an altitude of some 145 miles. The two previous flight tests ended in explosions, though SpaceX has said each endeavor completed major milestones and led to invaluable data.

Thursday’s flight test is set to take a similar trajectory to the third, as SpaceX seeks to land Starship in the Indian Ocean via splashdown.

For the fourth flight test, SpaceX said in a statement that its focus will turn from achieving orbit to demonstrating the ability for Starship and its Super Heavy booster to return to Earth and be reused. Primary objectives include executing a landing burn and soft splashdown in the Gulf for the booster, as well as a controlled entry of Starship, according to SpaceX.

To accomplish this, several software and hardware upgrades have been made to increase overall reliability and address lessons learned from Flight 3. The SpaceX team will also implement operational changes, including the jettison of the Super Heavy’s hot-stage following boostback to reduce booster mass for the final phase of flight.

(…)

This flight path does not require a deorbit burn for reentry, maximizing public safety while still providing the opportunity to meet our primary objective of a controlled Starship reentry.

The fourth flight of Starship will aim to bring us closer to the rapidly reusable future on the horizon. We’re continuing to rapidly develop Starship, putting flight hardware in a flight environment to learn as quickly as possible as we build a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

STARSHIP’S FOURTH FLIGHT TEST | SpaceX.com (excerpt)

ClickOrlando.com will stream Thursday’s flight test live at the top of this story when coverage begins.

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