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Business News/ Science / News/  In a first, SpaceX's most powerful rocket Starship makes 'soft landing' in Indian Ocean | WATCH
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In a first, SpaceX's most powerful rocket Starship makes 'soft landing' in Indian Ocean | WATCH

The SpaceX rocket, Starship, successfully survived the reentry through Earth's atmosphere and splashed down in the Indian Ocean as planned during its fourth test mission after launching from south Texas.

Image of SpaceX's Starship’s fourth flight test. (SpaceX)Premium
Image of SpaceX's Starship’s fourth flight test. (SpaceX)

SpaceX's mega Starship rocket achieved its first ever splashdown during a test flight Thursday. This was deemed as a major milestone for the prototype system that may one day send humans to Mars.

The most powerful rocket ever built blasted off from the company's Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas at 7:50 am (1250 GMT). It then entered the orbit, soaring halfway across the globe. The journey lasted around an hour and five minutes.

The rocket successfully survived the reentry through Earth's atmosphere and splashed down in the Indian Ocean as planned during its fourth test mission after launching from south Texas.

"Splashdown confirmed! Congratulations to the entire SpaceX team on an exciting fourth flight test of Starship!," SpaceX posted in X on Thursday. Meanwhile, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted, “Despite loss of many tiles and a damaged flap, Starship made it all the way to a soft landing in the ocean!"

The company had earlier said, "If Starship manages to make it all the way to reentry, we'll collect valuable data on the vehicle at hypersonic speeds, or more than 5x the speed of sound."

Thursday's flight was a significant feat for SpaceX's Starship, as the three previous attempts ended in its fiery destruction. It was the fourth launch of the world’s biggest and most powerful rocket, standing nearly 400 feet (121 meters) tall.

"This time, the rocket and the spacecraft managed to splash down in a controlled fashion, making the hourlong flight the longest and most successful yet," news agency Associated Press reported.

SpaceX had earlier said the Starship, on its fourth test, will fly a similar trajectory as the previous flight test, with a targeted splashdown of the Ship in the Indian Ocean. "The fourth flight of Starship will aim to bring us closer to the rapidly reusable future on the horizon," it added.

Sparks and debris flew off the spaceship as it came down over the Indian Ocean northwest of Australia, dramatic video captured by an onboard camera showed, even as it succeeded in its goal of surviving atmospheric re-entry, news agency AFP reported.

During the last test in March, the spaceship managed to fly for 49 minutes before it was lost as it careened into the atmosphere at around 27,000 kilometers per hour (nearly 17,000 mph). Since then SpaceX made several software and hardware upgrades.

On Thursday it also succeeded in the first soft splashdown for the first stage booster called Super Heavy, in the Gulf of Mexico, to massive applause from engineers at mission control in Hawthorne in California.

"Congratulations SpaceX on Starship's successful test flight this morning!" NASA chief Bill Nelson wrote on X. "We are another step closer to returning humanity to the Moon through #Artemis - then looking onward to Mars."

About Starship and Super Heavy booster

Designed to eventually be fully reusable, Starship stands 397 feet (121 meters) tall with both stages combined –  90 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. Its Super Heavy booster produces 16.7 million pounds (74.3 Meganewtons) of thrust, about twice as powerful as the Saturn V rockets used during the Apollo missions – though later versions should be more powerful still..

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 06 Jun 2024, 09:36 PM IST
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