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Starship: what should we remember from the last flight of SpaceX's enormous metal rocket ?

© SpaceX

SpaceX was keen to do well for this 4th Starship mission. After three flights in constant progress, the Starship was to take a big step yesterday. It was necessary, neither more nor less, than to succeed in taking off, separating the two stages of the rocket, reaching the frontiers of space and almost orbital speed, but also returning to Earth and controlled its re-entry into the atmosphere.

This last part of the flight plan was, obviously, the most complex. The only one that SpaceX has not already succeeded in the past. But yesterday, during the flight which lasted a little over an hour, everything went as planned. The rocket took off perfectly from Boca Chica. It separated at the right time, without damaging the first floor.

A flawless return ?

The return to Earth was also a success. Super Heavy, the booster that enabled the takeoff, splashed down gently in the Gulf of Mexico. As for the Starship, it flew a little over 40 minutes in space, following a ballistic trajectory, before falling back near the Australian coast.

The ship encountered some difficulties during its return to Earth. The heat shield heated up in places, giving breathtaking images. The Starship's flop was particularly damaged after the flight, but it worked until the last seconds.

What lessons can be learned from such a mission ?

This 4th flight of the Starshipis undoubtedly the one that went the best. The mission was completed and the SpaceX teams always appeared to be in control of the ship. It will now be necessary to analyze all the data collected by SpaceX to understand how to further improve the process in order to re-enter the atmosphere.

This part of a space flight is historically the more complex. SpaceX must notably work on the heat shield. If the latter had not functioned correctly during the 3rd flight on March 14, it already responded much better to the call yesterday.

What's next for Starship and SpaceX ?

In the future, however, it must be able to withstand such a descent without problem. Indeed, SpaceX wants to make Starship a reusable device like its Falcon 9 rocket. To achieve this, the ship must suffer as little damage as possible during its return to Earth.

SpaceX should in any case “quickly” return to the forefront for a 5th flight, hopefully even more impressive. It took the company two months to get their ship up and running again between attempts 3 and 4, they would have to meet the same deadline before the 5th flight.

This could be the first with a return to land (and not to sea) of Super Heavy. A very risky maneuver, but which could open the door to the reuse of this part of the rocket.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone 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 teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116