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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

STARSHIP'S FOURTH FLIGHT TEST

• https://www.spacex.com

A live webcast of the flight test will begin about 30 minutes before liftoff, which you can watch here and on X @SpaceX. The launch window will open as early as 7 a.m. CT. As is the case with all developmental testing, the schedule is dynamic and likely to change, so be sure to stay tuned to our X account for updates.

Starship's third flight test made tremendous strides towards a future of rapidly reliable reusable rockets. The test completed several exciting firsts, including the first Starship reentry from space, the first ever opening and closing of Starship's payload door in space, and a successful propellant transfer demonstration. This last test provided valuable data for eventual ship-to-ship propellant transfers that will enable missions like returning astronauts to the Moon under NASA's Artemis program.

The fourth flight test turns our focus from achieving orbit to demonstrating the ability to return and reuse Starship and Super Heavy. The primary objectives will be executing a landing burn and soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico with the Super Heavy booster, and achieving a controlled entry of Starship.

To accomplish this, several software and hardware upgrades have been made to increase overall reliability and address lessons learned from Flight 3. The SpaceX team will also implement operational changes, including the jettison of the Super Heavy's hot-stage following boostback to reduce booster mass for the final phase of flight.

Flight 4 will fly a similar trajectory as the previous flight test, with Starship targeted to splashdown in the Indian Ocean. This flight path does not require a deorbit burn for reentry, maximizing public safety while still providing the opportunity to meet our primary objective of a controlled Starship reentry.

The fourth flight of Starship will aim to bring us closer to the rapidly reusable future on the horizon. We're continuing to rapidly develop Starship, putting flight hardware in a flight environment to learn as quickly as possible as we build a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Countdown

All times approximate

Hr/Min/Sec Event
01:15:00 SpaceX Flight Director conducts poll and verifies GO for propellant load
00:49:00 Ship fuel (liquid methane) load underway
00:47:00 Ship LOX (liquid oxygen) load underway
00:40:00 Booster fuel load underway
00:37:00 Booster LOX load underway
00:19:40 Raptor begins engine chill on booster and ship
00:03:20 Ship propellant load complete
00:02:50 Booster propellant load complete
00:00:30 SpaceX flight director verifies GO for launch
00:00:10 Flame deflector activation
00:00:03 Raptor ignition sequence begins
00:00:00 Excitement guaranteed

Infographic detailing sequence of events for Starship's Fourth Flight Test

FLIGHT TEST TIMELINE

All Times Approximate

Hr/Min/Sec Event
00:00:02 Liftoff
00:01:02 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:41 Super Heavy MECO (most engines cut off)
00:02:45 Hot-staging (Starship Raptor ignition and stage separation)
00:02:49 Super Heavy boostback burn startup
00:03:52 Super Heavy boostback burn shutdown
00:03:54 Hot-stage jettison
00:06:39 Super Heavy is transonic
00:06:43 Super Heavy landing burn startup
00:07:04 Super Heavy landing burn shutdown
00:08:23 Starship engine cutoff
00:47:25 Starship entry
01:03:11 Starship is transonic
01:04:01 Starship is subsonic
01:05:38 Landing flip
01:05:43 Landing burn
01:05:48 An exciting landing!
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