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SpaceX Starship lost on return to Earth after completing most of third test flight

SpaceX’s Starship rocket, aimed at lunar missions and beyond, faced another setback as it disintegrated during its third test flight. Despite achieving several engineering milestones, the failure highlights challenges in its development.

Flight Overview:

  • The Starship, consisting of the cruise vessel atop the Super Heavy rocket booster, launched from Starbase near Boca Chica Village, Texas.
  • Achieved peak altitudes of 145 miles, surpassing previous attempts but still encountering failure during re-entry.

Failure During Re-entry:

  • Mission control lost communication with Starship during re-entry, leading to its disintegration in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • SpaceX opted out of re-igniting one of Starship’s Raptor engines, a critical milestone for future success.

Partial Successes and Missed Objectives:

  • Despite the setback, the flight accomplished stage separation, payload door operation, and propellant transfer in space.
  • Failed to demonstrate Super Heavy rocket recovery, a vital aspect of SpaceX’s reusability strategy.

Future Plans and Regulatory Requirements:

  • SpaceX plans six more Starship test flights this year, contingent upon regulatory approval.
  • Each failure necessitates investigation and corrective actions submitted to the FAA before subsequent flights.

Importance of Starship:

  • Musk aims for Starship to be a versatile spacecraft for lunar missions, Mars exploration, and commercial satellite launches.
  • NASA relies on Starship for its Artemis program, emphasizing the need for faster progress in development amidst competition with China.

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