Home > Information news > SpaceX’s Fourth Starship IFT-4 Test Is On Track For May Reveals NASA Official

SpaceX’s Fourth Starship IFT-4 Test Is On Track For May Reveals NASA Official

Release: 2024/04/28 10:22 Reading: 944

Original author:Ramish Zafar

Original source:https://wccftech.com/spacexs-fourth-starship-ift-4-test-is-on-track-for-may-reveals-nasa-official/

A view from inside Starship's payload bay. Image: SpaceX

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With April nearly over, SpaceX's highly anticipated fourth Starship test flight remains on schedule for a May test attempt, according to comments made by a NASA official earlier today. NASA and SpaceX are working together to ensure that Starship, the world's largest rocket, can support the agency's multi billion dollar effort to explore the Moon under the Artemis program. On this front, NASA's deputy associate administrator for the Moon to Mars program, Amit Kshatriya, shared the latest details for Starship at an Advisory Council meeting held earlier today, where he outlined that the fourth Starship test flight is currently scheduled to take place next month.

NASA Confident SpaceX Met All Objectives For Starship Propellant Transfer Test In March

Today's meeting focused on NASA's Moon to Mars architecture, through which the space agency aims to utilize the Moon's unique characteristics to serve as a stepping stone for deeper outer space missions. The Moon's gravity is one aspect that's favorable since it means that rockets can take more payload and use less fuel for launches.

SpaceX's Starship program is a crucial aspect of NASA's lunar exploration plans since not only is the upper stage spacecraft significantly larger than other landers contracted by the space agency, but also because its propulsion system is designed to liftoff in a manner similar to a rocket. The Starship spacecraft uses Raptor rocket engines, and SpaceX's long term plans for the rocket also involve relying on it to bring humans back from Mars.

At the meeting, NASA's Kshatriya shared that, as of now, the space agency is hoping that the fourth SpaceX Starship test flight will take place by the end of May. His comments build on statements made by SpaceX's president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell, who had taken the lead in March to share that the fourth Starship test flight was being targeted for May.

The March Starship launch also saw SpaceX run a crucial test for NASA to transport propellant within the vehicle's tanks. Kshatriya commented that he believes that the test was successful by all means, but a month after the test, NASA is still evaluating the data to make a definitive conclusion. He added that the crucial Starship un-crewed lunar landing test, which is scheduled before the first crew board the ship, will now also require SpaceX to demonstrate that the spaceship can lift off from the lunar surface to the lunar orbit.

Liftoff, particularly on the Moon, brings its own set of complications related to dust and debris, and this test should also help NASA plan out its plans of using the Moon as a base for Mars exploration. Kshatriya remained impressed with the third Starship test flight, calling it a "great success." As for the propellant transfer test between two Starships, which is crucial to fuel the ships in orbit before their Mars and Moon missions, this is on track to take place in 2025.

The NASA official added tht the agency is still working to understand the heat shield data for the Orion spacecraft's Artemis 1 mission. According to him, one of the biggest risks to the Artemis II mission is the heat shield, indicating that there might be a schedule slip if NASA is unable to fully analyze the heat shield data before the launch.

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