Home > Information news > SpaceX’s Fourth Starship Test Delayed To June – IFT-4 Booster Shipped To Pad

SpaceX’s Fourth Starship Test Delayed To June – IFT-4 Booster Shipped To Pad

Release: 2024/05/13 10:15 Reading: 638

Original author:Ramish Zafar

Original source:https://wccftech.com/spacexs-fourth-starship-test-delayed-to-june-ift-4-booster-shipped-to-pad/

The fully stacked Starship for IFT-3 waiting for its launch in Texas. Image: SpaceX

After SpaceX shipped its IFT-4 booster to the launch pad and static fired a new Starship for the first time earlier this week, Elon Musk has confirmed the fourth Starship test flight's delay on X. After the previous Starship test took place in March, SpaceX was quick to give a launch date, which would have meant a rapid drop in the turnaround time for the world's largest rocket since IFT-2 flew after a considerable delay. IFT-2 was followed by the third test four months later, and a May launch would have cut this time in half.

Starship IFT-4 Can Take Place In June Says Musk As SpaceX Picks Up The Pace In Starbase

Musk's comments came after he shared an image of two upper stage Starships at SpaceX's Texas facilities. While the next Starship test flight might take place in three months instead of two, for the first time since it started the integrated test flight campaign, SpaceX has now started to focus on simultaneously maintaining multiple rockets.

The two ships could support SpaceX's fourth and fifth Starship tests, and allow it to gather more data about its rockets. The success of the Falcon 9 program is partly due to the hundreds of landings that have enabled SpaceX to gather copious amounts of data, and despite rapid progress with building test prototypes, SpaceX still has several key objectives it must meet in 2024 with the rocket.

The Starship Super Heavy uses 33 rocket engines for liftoff, and during landing, the rocket has to orient itself properly or risk crashing. While the rocket exploded before stage separation during the first test flight, in IFT-2, the booster managed to jettison away from the second stage but exploded after engine reignition.

The Starship Super Heavy booster starts to reignite its center core Raptor engines after successful stage separation in IFT-2. Image; SpaceX/X

The third flight added progress in March. After stage separation, not only did the second stage Starship coast sufficiently to allow for some fireworks during atmospheric reentry, but the first stage almost looked ready to crash vertically and mimic a 'tower catch.' However, just as it reached the water, the final set of engine burns needed for a controlled landing failed to meet the landing requirement. This led to a loss of vehicle, and the focus of the rest of the test shifted to the upper stage Starship spacecraft. For IFT-2's loss of booster, SpaceX had pinned the failure on a blocked liquid oxygen filter.

Yet, while the booster was lost in IFT-3, the ship stole the show later during the day. Visuals of its atmospheric reentry awed viewers, and perhaps tellingly, Musk's latest Starship tweet also shows the second stage ship with its heat shield on display.

Heat shields rank high in complexity among the thousands of components engineers design and manufacture as part of building a rocket. SpaceX manufactures heat shield tiles and then assembles them onto the ship. Musk went on to add that when Starship IFT-4 flies next month, SpaceX will try to get the ship past the point of "max heating."

Apart from the two Starships, the third rocket in the picture might fly soon as well. This is because its inter-stage stage separation ring is also visible. SpaceX upgrades its Starship rockets on the go, allowing rockets for flights down the road to feature improvements not present in the ones partaking in the current test flight.

A test flight in June would also mean that SpaceX tests the full Starship stack twice during the first half of a year for the first time. Apart from the ship's performance, the booster should also provide great visuals, particularly during the landing phase of the test.

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