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SpaceX Starship Flight Test 4 Ends in Splashdown Following Fiery Re-Entry

Image Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX continues to push the boundaries of space travel with its Starship program. On June 6th, the company launched Starship Flight Test 4, achieving key objectives despite some challenges during re-entry.

The launch, which took place from Starbase, Texas, saw the powerful Super Heavy booster successfully carry the Starship spacecraft into space. While one engine on the booster shut down shortly after liftoff, the remaining 32 engines provided enough thrust to complete the mission.

The impressive feat of this flight lies in surpassing the peak heat experienced by Starship during the previous re-entry. This vital data will be used to further refine the thermal shield, a crucial component for safe return journeys.

However, the re-entry wasn't entirely smooth sailing. To gather data on the thermal shield's performance under different conditions, SpaceX deliberately removed some tiles. Unfortunately, this resulted in plasma breaching the hinge of one of the Starship's upper wings, causing some structural damage.

Despite the wing damage, Starship managed a controlled ocean landing. This successful landing, coupled with the valuable reentry data, positions SpaceX for a potentially faster permitting process for the upcoming Starship Flight 5.

The focus for Flight 5, which is expected to utilize Ship 30 and Super Heavy booster 30, is likely to include the retrieval of Booster 11 using a robotic arm, a feat that would mark another significant milestone for the program.

Overall, Starship Flight 4 demonstrates SpaceX's rapid progress in developing a fully reusable space transportation system. While the re-entry incident highlights the ongoing challenges, the mission's success paves the way for future advancements in Starship's capabilities.


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