SpaceX Turns 22, Starship Reaches New Heights in 3rd Test: Videos


SpaceX Starship
The SpaceX Starship spacecraft lifts off from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on March 14, 2024. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

SpaceX today (March 14) launched the third orbital test flight of Starship from the company’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. A prototype Starship upper stage and a Super Heavy rocket booster successfully performed a number of tests while in space, marking a key milestone in SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s dream to colonize Mars.

The giant two-stage spacecraft, weighing about 5,000 tons, made it much further into flight than during two previous tests in April and November 2023. The Starship upper stage also reached orbital velocity for the first time. The entire test lasted about 48 minutes. The November 2023 test lasted only eight minutes.

During the test, Starship completed a propellant transfer demonstration, moving fuel from one tank to another within the spacecraft. The test is a key component in Starship’s future use as a moon lander for NASA’s Artemis program. SpaceX also tested opening and closing a payload bay door on Starship, which would be used in future Starlink missions to deploy satellites. However, engineers will need to review data to determine if the payload door test was successful.

A webcast of the test showed views of Starship re-entering Earth’s atmosphere after coasting in space for a little bit. but SpaceX lost communication with the spacecraft earlier than expected.

“Starship will take humanity to Mars,” Musk posted on X after the test flight.

Today also marks the 22nd anniversary of SpaceX’s founding in El Segundo, Calif. The company’s chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell posted on X, congratulating the company’s engineering team for carrying out a successful test.

SpaceX has another mission later today to launch 23 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

Key moments of Starship’s third orbital test:

Liftoff!

Hot-staging separation:

Coasting in space:

Re-entering the atmosphere:

Starship Reaches New Heights in 3rd Orbital Test On SpaceX’s 22nd Birthday: Videos





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