Starship Flight Test 4: Hot Take

In keeping with Spacex’s rapid iterative approach, Flight Test 4 was successfully completed today, June 6th, 2024, less than 3 months after Flight Test 3. Mission objectives were to achieve a controlled reentry for both Starship 29 and Booster 11, along with a soft splashdown for Booster 11. The telemetry data was the payload.

Mission objectives appeared to have been achieved.  Booster 11 flipped and completed its boostback burn, before executing a soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico. Starship 29 made it through the atmosphere, delivering telemetry all the way through descent, including through both peak heat and peak pressure, before also executing a soft splashdown in the Indian ocean. The flight, including Starship reentry, was spectacularly captured by onboard cameras, delivered in realtime video via Starlink, and broadcast on X

Liftoff was achieved with 32 out of 33 raptor engines. Hot staging, along with the hot staging ring jettison that was a temporary feature of this test, was executed without a hitch. Most of the heat shields appear to have performed as expected. Some disintegration, particularly around the flaps, was observed during descent on today’s live feed. Received telemetry is likely already being analyzed and insights used to further mission objectives of the next test flight, Test Flight 5. As Spacex puts it: excitement guaranteed.

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