SpaceX video teases Starship rocket’s potential for next flight

Zoom in / In early June, the fourth full-scale Starship test flight is scheduled to launch from Starbase, the company’s launch base in South Texas.

SpaceX

in Short video released on ThursdayPerhaps to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday in the United States with the red glow of the largest rocket ever, SpaceX has released new footage of the latest test of its Starship launch vehicle.

The test, the fourth for NASA’s experimental rocket that will land astronauts on the moon and one day take humans to Mars, took place on June 6. During the flight, the rocket’s first stage performed well during the ascent and, after separating from the upper stage, re-entered the Gulf of Mexico. The Starship upper stage appeared to make a nominal journey through space before making a controlled — if fiery — splashdown in the Indian Ocean.

The new video focuses primarily on the Super Heavy booster stage and its entry into the Gulf. There is new footage from a camera atop the 71-meter-tall first stage as well as a nearby buoy at water level. The video from the buoy, in particular, shows the first stage descending vertically into the ocean.

The fourth test flight of the spacecraft.

Perhaps most interestingly, at the end of the video, SpaceX shows a photo of the Starship launch tower in South Texas at the Starbase facility. One of the most notable images is the “chopsticks,” two large arms designed to hold the first-stage booster as it slowly descends toward the launch pad.

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Then, in simulated footage, the video shows the first stage of the Starship rocket descending toward the launch tower under the title “Flight 5.” The video then fades out.

To land or not to land?

This supports the idea that SpaceX is working on trying to catch a Starship booster on its next test flight, likely later this summer. The company certainly has technical and regulatory work to do before it can do that.

In the days immediately following the fourth flight test, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the company’s goal was to make such a landing attempt on its next launch. However, during a conversation with locals in South Texas last week, Starbase CEO Kathy Lueders said This attempt may not occur on Flight 5.

However, the new video released Thursday suggests that a capture attempt is still a possibility, perhaps even a possibility. Such a landing would be visually stunning, as well as a calculated risk to SpaceX’s launch infrastructure, as the booster would likely land with a few extra tons of methane and liquid fuel in its tanks.

If SpaceX decides to go ahead with the attempt, it still has to get a launch and return license from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of people and property on the ground. The next test flight likely won’t happen until August.

Excitement of the journey No. 5.
Zoom in / Excitement of the journey No. 5.

SpaceX

Meanwhile, activities at the South Texas launch site could be halted for a few days as Hurricane Beryl enters the Gulf of Mexico later Friday and heads toward the Texas coast early next week. The center of Hurricane Beryl is expected to pass near or north of the launch site late Sunday night or Monday, bringing winds and storm surge.

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However, since Beryl is not expected to be a major hurricane in terms of wind speeds, these impacts should not be catastrophic to SpaceX facilities. Heavy rainfall and inland flooding in the Starbase Lowlands are also possible on Monday and Tuesday before the storm moves away.

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