SpaceX Targets July for Fifth Starship Test Flight with Ambitious New Maneuver

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Insider Brief:

  • SpaceX plans to launch its Starship rocket for a fifth test flight in late July, aiming to catch the rocket’s first-stage booster.
  • Instead of being discarded after launch, SpaceX aims to catch the Super Heavy booster with arms on the launch tower for reuse.
  • This test flight is anticipated to be the most complex and visually impressive one yet.

 

SpaceX plans to launch its Starship rocket for a fifth test flight in late July, aiming to execute a groundbreaking new maneuver: catching the rocket’s first-stage booster. This trial, if successful, could mark a significant step forward in reusable rocket technology and reduce the cost of future space missions.

Elon Musk announced the timeline on social media, responding to a post on X that featured an animation of the innovative “catch” technique. “Aiming to try this in late July!” Musk confirmed.

The massive 120-meter-tall Starship consists of two stages: the Super Heavy booster and the Starship upper stage. The Super Heavy booster, which provides the primary thrust to escape Earth’s gravity, is the focus of this new maneuver. Instead of being discarded after launch, SpaceX reportedly aims to catch it for reuse.

Traditionally, rocket boosters either fall into the ocean or require a landing on a drone ship for recovery. SpaceX’s new approach involves catching the descending booster with arms on the launch tower, a method designed to improve efficiency and lower costs. Successfully catching the Super Heavy booster could enable rapid turnaround between flights, a crucial factor for achieving Musk’s vision of frequent, economical space travel.

This test flight is anticipated to be the most complex and visually impressive one yet. If SpaceX succeeds, it will bring the company closer to its goal of making space travel more affordable and accessible.

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