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The space race

Starship, SpaceX's spaceship lost during re-entry into the atmosphere

Signal disappeared 65 kilometers from ditching.

Starship, the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, took flight from the southern tip of Texas, final destination the Indian Ocean

03/14/2024

SpaceX's Starship was lost during re-entry into the atmosphere during its third flight test.

The ship designed for trips to the Moon and Mars correctly carried out the steps required in the test, but during the re-entry, when it was now 65 kilometers from the planned landing area, the signal disappeared.

The third test flight of Starship, the SpaceX spaceship designed to be completely and rapidly reusable and to allow it to reach the Moon and Mars, left at 2.25 pm Italian time from the Starbase site in south Texas.

This third test had much more ambitious goals than the previous ones, such as "the successful ignition of both stages, the opening and closing of the satellite release hatch, a simulation of propellant transfer, and the first ever re-ignition of a Raptor engine in space and the controlled reentry of Starship".

Elon Musk's company aimed to have the upper stage of the rocket dive into the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, about 1 hour after launch, while the landing zone planned for the first two missions was located in the Pacific Ocean, near in Hawaii.

This test was also important to understand the actual reusability of the spacecraft, a feature that Musk believes will usher in a revolution in spaceflight.

The third test came after two flights in April and November 2023. These also did not go exactly as planned.

In the first test the two stages of the rocket, the largest and most powerful ever built, with a height of 122 meters and 33 engines generating almost 7.5 million kilograms of thrust, did not separate correctly and the flight ended after just four minutes, when Starship was detonated for safety reasons.

Progress was made in November: stage separation was successful, but before the second stage could reach orbit, contact was lost and it was then detonated again about 12 minutes later.