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Third time a charm for SpaceX Starship? Test flight launch to happen today

This Starship test flight launch comes after two previous attempts, one in April and a second in November last year, both ending in spectacular explosions.

SpaceX Starship

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation or SpaceX on Wednesday received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for the orbital launch of the Starship test flight. The Elon Musk-owned company will attempt to launch the massive Starship rocket for the third time today at the Starbase campus near Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX has a 110-minute test window that opens at 7:00 a.m. CT (5:30 p.m. IST). A live webcast of the third test flight will commence about 30 minutes before the liftoff.

Starship is a collective vehicle comprising a Super Heavy booster and a spacecraft on the top. The 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.

This test flight comes after two previous attempts, one in April and a second in November last year, both ending in spectacular explosions. In its third attempt, SpaceX aims to achieve several milestones, including the successful ascent burn of both stages (Starship and Super Heavy booster), opening and closing Starship’s payload door, a propellant transfer demonstration during the upper stage’s coast phase, the first ever re-light of a Raptor engine while in space, and a controlled re-entry of Starship. This time the company will also fly a new trajectory, with Starship targeted to splashdown in the Indian Ocean, a new landing location compared to the previous Pacific Ocean attempts.

“This rapid iterative development approach has been the basis for all of SpaceX’s major innovative advancements, including Falcon, Dragon, and Starlink. Recursive improvement is essential as we work to build a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, help humanity return to the Moon, and ultimately travel to Mars and beyond,” the company said in a blog.

With this third of many attempts ahead, SpaceX is also gearing up to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit through its fully reusable transportation system. The success of the SpaceX Starship mission will further facilitate humanity’s return to the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

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