SpaceX Schedules Next Starship Flight for June 5, Addresses Previous Setback

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Insider Brief:

  • SpaceX has announced June 5 as the date for its next Starship rocket flight.
  • The mission will demonstrate the Super Heavy first stage’s ability to make a soft landing in the Gulf of Mexico and the Starship upper stage’s controlled reentry into the Indian Ocean.
  • Since the last test in March, SpaceX has made hardware changes to improve propellant filtration and added more roll control thrusters for future flights.

 

SpaceX has announced June 5 as the date for its next Starship rocket flight. This fourth test flight aims to further the rocket’s journey toward operational readiness and reusability. The mission will demonstrate the Super Heavy first stage’s ability to make a soft landing in the Gulf of Mexico and the Starship upper stage’s controlled reentry into the Indian Ocean.

During the most recent test on March 14, the Super Heavy first stage faced issues when six of its 13 relit Raptor engines shut down early due to a blockage in the liquid oxygen filter. SpaceX has since made hardware changes to improve propellant filtration. The upper stage also struggled with attitude control due to clogged reaction control thruster valves, prompting SpaceX to add more roll control thrusters for future flights.

“The six engines that shut down early in the boostback burn were disabled from attempting the landing burn startup, leaving seven engines commanded to start up with two successfully reaching mainstage ignition,” the company stated. “The booster had lower than expected landing burn thrust when contact was lost at approximately 462 meters in altitude over the Gulf of Mexico and just under seven minutes into the mission.”

Despite setbacks, Flight 3 achieved milestones like opening the Starship payload bay door in space and a small propellant transfer demonstration. For the upcoming flight, SpaceX is addressing these technical issues to ensure successful reentry and controlled landings, paving the way for advanced tests, including Starlink satellite deployment and propellant transfers for NASA’s Artemis Program.

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Featured image: Credit: SpaceX

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