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    SpaceX targets March 14 for third Starship test flight

    Space Exploration Technologies Corporation or SpaceX is gearing up for its third test flight of the colossal Starship rocket slated for March 14; pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While the timing of the upcoming launch is still not confirmed, it is expected to take place at the Starbase facility near Boca Chica, Texas.

    The Starship rocket, standing nearly 400 feet tall and boasting the capability to carry over 10 million pounds of propellant, recently completed a “wet dress” rehearsal. In addition, the company has reportedly addressed 17 corrective actions identified by the FAA after its second test flight in November 2023, and it now awaits the regulatory approval for its third test flight.

    Third Time’s the Charm?

    This test flight comes after two previous attempts, one in April and second in November last year, both ending in spectacular explosions. However, SpaceX views these as valuable learning experiences in their development approach.

    This third test flight reportedly aims to achieve several new milestones, including:

    • A successful ascent burn for both Starship and its Super Heavy booster.
    • Opening and closing Starship’s payload door.
    • A propellant transfer demonstration during the upper stage’s coasting phase.
    • The first-ever re-lighting of a Raptor engine in space.
    • A controlled re-entry and splashdown in the Indian Ocean, marking a new landing location compared to the previous Pacific Ocean attempts.

    Beyond this upcoming test, SpaceX faces a long road ahead. Starship still needs to achieve a successful orbital flight and undergo numerous additional tests before it can fulfill its ultimate goals. With the Starship and Super Heavy booster, SpaceX also envisions a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, facilitating humanity’s return to the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program, and eventually voyaging to Mars.

    Author

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    Monika Asthana

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