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SpaceX hails 'successful' Starship flight

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar15,2024

SpaceX salutes a flight &laquo

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The Starship took off from Boca Chica, Texas, where the SpaceX station is located.

Agence France-Presse

The third takeoff of SpaceX's huge Starship rocket, intended for trips to the Moon and Mars, ended Thursday with the loss of the spacecraft as it returned to Earth, but American space company congratulated itself on a “successful” test flight, the longest so far.

The The world's most powerful and largest rocket (120 meters) accomplished several firsts on Thursday, said billionaire Elon Musk's company.SpaceX video showed impressive footage of the craft flying above Earth, then illuminated with orange plasma as it entered Earth's atmosphere, driven by heat from friction.

Huge congratulations to all the teams on this incredible day, wrote on X Gwynne Shotwell, number 2 at SpaceX.

Liftoff took place at 8:25 a.m. local time from the Starbase space station in Boca Chica, in the far south of Texas.

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The third test flight of the Starship rocket took place from Starbase, Texas.

The rocket consists of two stages: the Super Heavy propulsion stage and, above, the Starship, which by extension gives its name to the entire rocket.

The two stages successfully separated a few minutes after takeoff.

Super Heavy was then supposed to fall gently back into the Gulf of Mexico, but did not complete this maneuver and exploded. Its flight concluded at an altitude of approximately 460 meters, according to SpaceX.

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The ship continued its course and largely crossed the border of space, reaching more than 200 km of altitude.

He has never flown so far and so fast, said a commentator during the video broadcast.

It then had to fall back into the Indian Ocean to complete the test (without surviving the impact). The ship, however, was declared lost as it descended towards Earth, a euphemism meaning that it probably exploded.

Starship's last signal was received 49 minutes after takeoff.

It's x27;was the first time that SpaceX tested, during a return from space, the effectiveness of Starship's heat shield, made up of 18,000 black ceramic tiles. Valuable data was thus collected, the company said.

As during the two previous tests last year, which ended in spectacular explosions, the American air regulator (FAA) announced that it would supervise an investigation into the incidents that occurred in flight.

SpaceX is banking on Starship to achieve its goal of making humanity a multi-planetary species by installing it on Mars.

Its development is also very important for NASA, which is counting on this spacecraft to land its astronauts on the Moon during its Artemis 3 mission, scheduled for 2026.

NASA boss Bill Nelson congratulated SpaceX on Thursday, also calling the test flight a success.

During the flight, SpaceX also tested the opening of the hatch which could be used to release cargo, for example satellites, into space.

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NASA's Artemis program aims to send astronauts to the lunar surface sometime in 2026.

The company has also begun a demonstration of fuel transfer, the success of which has yet to be confirmed, according to Gwynne Shotwell.

This transfer was to take place between two tanks inside the vessel , according to the specialized press.

Developing this function is essential, because to reach the Moon, Starship will have to refuel once in space, thanks to a vessel previously filled by others and serving as a space gas station. /p>

Besides its disproportionate size, the great innovation of this rocket is that it must ultimately be entirely reusable.

For these tests, the prototypes used do not carry any cargo. And SpaceX has already manufactured several copies.

SpaceX's development method is different from that of traditional companies and agencies national space companies.

If the latter operate with taxpayer money, SpaceX can take more risks using its own funds.

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SpaceX's development method consists of carrying out successive tests at a rapid pace and financed by its own funds. (Archive photo)

The company also claims an iterative development technique based on successive tests following on from a rapid pace, even if it means that they end with explosions.

The lessons learned then allow modifications to be made quickly.< /p>

It's always better to sacrifice hardware than to sacrifice time, Elon Musk told employees in January.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">SpaceX, whose Falcon rockets dominate the American launch market, said Thursday it wanted to increase the rate of Starship takeoffs during the year.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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