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Starship “survived” fourth test flight


On June 6, SpaceX conducted the fourth test flight of its Starship launch system; The Super Heavy booster and Starship’s upper part returned to the surface intact. The vehicle launched at 8:50 a.m. EDT from the Starbase test site in Boca Chica, Texas. The liftoff appeared to be going according to plan, except that one of the Raptor’s 33 engines in the super-heavy booster failed to ignite.


Following “hot stage” stage separation, in which the Starship’s upper stage ignited its engines before separating from the Super Heavy, the Super Heavy’s booster performed a reverse boost without any Raptor engine failures as in the previous two flights. He rejected the intermediate stage portion of the hot stage, which was a new step for this launch; SpaceX said this was a temporary measure to reduce the mass of the launch vehicle for landing.

During the final descent phase, the launch vehicle reignited its three Raptor engines for landing. This allowed the launch vehicle to “land” in the Gulf of Mexico, reducing its speed to zero on the ocean surface before flipping over. Achieving this landing was a top priority for the mission.

Starship flew on its planned suborbital trajectory and did not exhibit as much inclination as during its previous launch in March. Starship delivered live video of the spacecraft’s entry via SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, offering spectacular views of the plasma field surrounding the spacecraft.

Although damage to one wing was visible in the video, Starship went through its maximum warm-up phase, unlike the March flight. The vehicle continued its controlled descent approximately 65 minutes after takeoff and touched down before impact.

“Despite the loss of many parts and a damaged wing, the Starship managed to make a soft landing in the ocean!” This was announced on social networks by SpaceX’s chief executive Elon Musk.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also hailed the flight as a step toward developing a version of the Starship lunar lander that the agency plans to use for a campaign to explore the moon Artemis. “Congratulations to SpaceX on Starship’s successful test flight this morning!” HE published. “Through Artemis, we are one step closer to returning humanity to the moon, and then we are looking at Mars.”

FAA license updated

The launch comes two days after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a renewed Starship launch license. The renewed license did not make any significant changes to how SpaceX would conduct the launch, but it was necessary for SpaceX to continue the mission.

But the FAA approved a series of exemptions proposed by SpaceX that could speed up the time until the next flight. “Test Damage Exceptions” will allow SpaceX to waive prosecution if they contribute to the loss of a vehicle in flight, provided they do not impact public safety.

The FAA approved three such exceptions: failure of the vehicle’s thermal protection system during entry into Starship, failure of the vehicle’s flaps to provide adequate control during entry, and failure of the Raptor’s engines during landing. The FAA said that if any of these malfunctions occurred, no investigation would be necessary unless they resulted in loss of life or property damage to third parties or the creation of debris outside approved danger zones.

Threat of a new lawsuit

On the same day the FAA granted the new launch license, an environmental group announced its intention to sue SpaceX, alleging its ground systems cause water pollution.

SaveRGV, a group specializing in the environment of the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas, announced on June 4 that it had notified SpaceX that it would file a lawsuit against the company for alleged “repeated violations of federal law,” including Clean Water. To behave.

SaveRGV says the water drainage system SpaceX installed at Starbase, designed to limit damage to the site during Starship launches, discharges “industrial wastewater” containing contaminants such as metals that can travel up to a kilometer away from the site. The organization said SpaceX does not have a permit for such emissions from Texas state regulators.

An environmental review conducted by the FAA before the second Starship/Super Heavy launch in November concluded that the additional flooding system did not cause significant environmental changes. The review concluded that water from the drainage system was “expected to receive less than average summer rainfall” and was “unlikely to alter water quality.”

The organization said it would file a lawsuit against SpaceX within 60 days, seeking civil penalties and an injunction that could prevent SpaceX from using the Deluge system or even launching there.

Source: Port Altele

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