Soft landing with “space confetti” is the first success of SpaceX’s Starship (video)

SpaceX has launched Starship for the fourth time, sending a 122-meter rocket from its Starbase launch site near Boca Chica in southern Texas. The mission was successful for the first time: first, the first stage made a soft landing, and then the ship itself.

The fourth test flight had two main goals: to ensure the descent of the first stage of the Super Heavy and a soft landing in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as to carry out a controlled return of the 50-meter Starship.

Both goals were achieved, although the flight was not without incident. During the Super Heavy launch, only 32 of the 33 Raptor engines were ignited – one did not work, and this was evident both on the recording and on telemetry. When the accelerator activated the landing impulse of 13 engines, only 12 started working, but this did not prevent the first stage from hovering over the water for a while and then descending smoothly, thereby making a soft landing.

The Starship also made a soft landing in the Indian Ocean. During the flight, the video broadcast from the cameras on board the ship was regularly interrupted. But every time Starship got in touch again, proving that it was alive. During the descent, one could see the ship surrounded by plasma. And then, in real time, we could see how one of the flaps was being damaged – first, its heat shield burned out, and then the wing itself began to collapse. But surprisingly, it didn’t fall off. Debris and combustion products blocked the lens of the camera used for the broadcast. As a result, the optics cracked completely.

Despite the damage, the ship turned around as it was supposed to during landing and launched a landing pulse. “Despite the loss of many tiles and a damaged flap, Starship made a soft landing in the ocean! Congratulations to the SpaceX team on an epic achievement!” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on the X social network.

Starship is expected to be used for flights to the Moon and Mars. But before that, it needs to make many more test flights. So far, with each successive one, he has achieved more and more success. Earlier, Elon Musk said that SpaceX intends to launch six Starships in 2024. This means that there may be four more in the remaining six months. A little less than a month ago, the company conducted a static burn of the engines on the fifth Starship.

Source space
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