Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
SpaceX Comes Close to Completing Test Flight of Mega Rocket but Loses Spacecraft Near End
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
March 14, 2024

Share

SpaceX nearly completes an hourlong test flight of its mega rocket.

Contact with Starship was lost as it neared its goal, a splashdown in the Indian Ocean.

Despite the loss, the test flight was considered a win by SpaceX and NASA.


SpaceX came close to completing an hourlong test flight of its mega rocket on its third try Thursday, but the spacecraft was lost as it descended back to Earth.

The company said it lost contact with Starship as it neared its goal, a splashdown in the Indian Ocean. Until then, most everything had gone well following liftoff from the southern tip of Texas near the Mexican border.

“The ship has been lost. So no splashdown today,” said SpaceX’s Dan Huot. “But again, it’s incredible to see how much further we got this time around.”

Previous Test Flights

Two test flights last year both ended in explosions minutes after liftoff. By surviving for close to 50 minutes this time, Thursday’s effort was considered a win by not only SpaceX’s Elon Musk, but NASA as well as Starship soared higher and farther than ever before. The space agency is counting on Starship to land its astronauts on the moon in another few years.

The nearly 400-foot (121-meter) Starship, the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built, headed out over the Gulf of Mexico after liftoff Thursday morning, flying east. A few minutes later, the booster separated seamlessly from the spaceship and plummeted into the gulf, although not exactly as planned because of what appeared to be an entry engine issue. The spacecraft continued toward the east, with no people or satellites on board.

Loss of Contact

Starship reached an altitude of about 145 miles (233 kilometers) as it coasted across the Atlantic and South Africa, before approaching the Indian Ocean. But 49 minutes into the flight — with just 15 minutes remaining — all contact was lost and the spacecraft presumably broke apart.

At that point, it was 40 miles (65 kilometers) high and traveling around 16,000 mph (25,700 kph).

SpaceX’s Elon Musk had just congratulated his team a little earlier. “SpaceX has come a long way,” he said via X, formerly called Twitter. The rocket company was founded exactly 22 years ago Thursday.

NASA’s Interest

NASA watched with keen interest: The space agency needs Starship to succeed in order to land astronauts on the moon in the next two or so years. This new crop of moonwalkers — the first since last century’s Apollo program — will descend to the lunar surface in a Starship after transferring from NASA’s Orion capsule in lunar orbit.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson quickly congratulated SpaceX on what he called a successful test flight as part of the space agency’s Artemis moon-landing program.

Future Plans

Initially, SpaceX plans to use the mammoth rockets to launch the company’s Starlink internet satellites, as well as other spacecraft. Test pilots would follow to orbit, before the company flies wealthy clients around the moon and back. Musk considers the moon a stepping stone to Mars, his ultimate quest.

NASA is insisting that an empty Starship land successfully on the moon, before future moonwalkers climb aboard. The space agency is targeting the end of 2026 for the first moon landing crew under the Artemis program, named after the mythological twin sister of Apollo.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

DON'T MISS

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

DON'T MISS

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

DON'T MISS

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

DON'T MISS

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

DON'T MISS

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

DON'T MISS

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

DON'T MISS

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

DON'T MISS

This Week’s Weather Will Take Us from Fleece to Flip-Flops

DON'T MISS

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

UP NEXT

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

UP NEXT

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

UP NEXT

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

UP NEXT

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

UP NEXT

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

UP NEXT

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

UP NEXT

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

UP NEXT

This Week’s Weather Will Take Us from Fleece to Flip-Flops

UP NEXT

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

UP NEXT

Palestinian Supporters Block Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

2 hours ago

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

3 hours ago

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

3 hours ago

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

3 hours ago

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

3 hours ago

This Week’s Weather Will Take Us from Fleece to Flip-Flops

Weather /

3 hours ago

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

3 hours ago

Palestinian Supporters Block Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

3 hours ago

Biden’s Embrace of Trump’s Tariffs Could Spell Trouble for His Reelection: Fareed Zakaria

4 hours ago

Ship That Caused Bridge Collapse Had Apparent Electrical Issues While Still Docked, Source Says

4 hours ago

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

The United Way Fresno and Madera Counties has launched a national search for a new president and CEO after the resignation of longtime chief...
Local /

35 mins ago

Local /
36 mins ago

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

59 mins ago

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

1 hour ago

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

2 hours ago

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

3 hours ago

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

3 hours ago

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

3 hours ago

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

3 hours ago

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend