SpaceX’s Fourth Launch Hailed As A Hugely Successful Flight

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Despite a flap burn-through that had observers on the edge of their seats, SpaceX’s fourth test flight of its megarocket is being hailed as a stunning success. SpaceX founder Elon Musk posted on his social media platform X (formerly Twitter), “Successful soft landing of the Starship Super Heavy rocket booster!”

The 400-foot-tall rocket launched this morning (June 6) at 8:50 a.m. EDT from its Starbase site near Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. Mission goals included bringing the first-stage booster (dubbed “Super Heavy”) back to Earth for a soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico and a successful reentry for 165-foot upper stage (Starship, or simply “Ship”) and a soft landing in the Indian Ocean. Both goals were achieved.

The nail-biting centered on the Ship, as in-flight video showed the controlling flap’s heat shield burn away during reentry. But “the little flap that could” survived the intense heat and the stresses of the descent, enabling the Ship to “nail” its landing in the Indian Ocean.

During a live feed from company headquarters in Hawthorne, California, SpaceX spokesperson Dan Huot reported, “This whole building was going absolutely insane. When we saw the booster hit the water, I mean, wow.”

According to the SpaceX website post, “We’re continuing to rapidly develop Starship, putting flight hardware in a flight environment to learn as quickly as possible as we build a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Edge of seat is a good description of where I was as I watched the live coverage. That flap slowly burned and then slowly disintegrated sending debris onto and cracking the camera lens. But both the flap and the on board camera live footage, the live footage becoming very distorted, hung in there till splashdown. Space X’s lasting words throughout the coverage were “on this mission the data is the payload”.

  2. Jeff’s myopic comments seem personal and clearly differ from the majority of followers who recognize and appreciate the impressive engineering achievements of the SpaceX organization. Kudos to Elon Musk and the SpaceX team for their largely successful design, engineering, manufacturing, and operation of what is anticipated to evolve into a fully reusable spacecraft system.

  3. So excited to see this technology advancing event. Not disappointed. So much learned during this flight. Looking forward to the next iteration. Amazing to see what is possible by someone not constrained by financial risk adversity. Can’t wait to eventually see daily flights of Starship from here at Kennedy Space Center. Looking forward to the inevitable benefits for humankind.

  4. Congrats to the SpaceX team! What a fantastic accomplishment in only 22 years.

    This is my first comment and was in response to Jeff’s rant. Just a small datapoint, Boeing/ULA/NASA/Atlas 5 is also the recipient of over 70 years of history and untold billions of Federal dollars.

    When an organization gets so large, the skeptic in me recognizes that their altruism and integrity starts to head the wrong way, but you can’t take anything away from Elon’s accomplishment with SpaceX.

    Now, I will return to the silent majority section

  5. Jeff’s unhinged comment is evidence of how far the anti free speech crowd has gone off the deep end. Very sad. Elon musk bought twitter and now they can not continue to censor information they don’t like on the platform. I’m rooting for Space X.

  6. Jeff has no future as a historian. Space X received 2/3 the money as Boeing for the commercial crew program, yet they’ve now flown 8 crewed missions to the ISS starting on 2020. Little Darling Boeing just got off the ground with theirs, they’re 2 billion in the hole, and the crappy thing had failures during the trip up. Blowed if I’d ride that thing back to earth.
    Hats off to Space X (WORLD’S leading rocket launcher) and Super Heavy. This system is what NASA’s dreams are made of.

    • Gee, I didn’t see Boeing mentioned anywhere in this story. What did I miss? Was it supposed to be about funding a different company, or was it to be a historically accurate account according to Phil P.’s standards?

    • Tesla is a publicly traded company. I am sure any “bribes” taken by them and somehow transferred to the privately held Space X would be quickly noticed by any number of agencies and individuals.

      Also, while Space X is a privately held company it is doing business with the US Government through NASA and the Department of Defense. I am quite sure they have been vetted quite thoroughly.

    • Not at all relevant to the article, but just to clarify, the $7,500 tax rebate on all qualifying US made electric vehicles (including Ford, Chevy, et al) goes to the buyer (i.e. taxpayer) not the company that builds the vehicle.

    • And I am not impressed by your admittedly unsubstantiated claim.

      The $7,500 ‘brbe’ is the maximum tax credit that you can claim for buying an EV – but not “every Tesla battery car” qualifies. Tesla currently offers ten models; only six qualify (see fueleconomy.gov/feg/tax2023.shtml).

      Nor does every Tesla buyer qualify AT ALL due to income limits. And the credit is non-refundable, meaning you can only claim as much as you’re actually paying in taxes for the year (see: cnbc.com/2024/02/09/for-7500-ev-tax-credit-you-may-no-longer-have-to-wait-until-tax-time.html).

      [Compare that to the $10,000 cash refund that I received from the for being a first time home buyer during a year in which I had no taxable income.]

    • It has been a long time since Kent has let the easily-ascertained truth stand in the way of his politics.

  7. I certainly agree that NASA is very good at achieving huge cost over-runs building on 1950s technology to repeat 1960s accomplishments. I guess it is the “back to the future” approach to space exploration! Ever since STS came to an end NASA has struggled to remain relevant, and, for the most part, it has failed in that effort.

  8. Kent,

    As an automotive enthusiast I’m as against Tesla specifically and EV’s in general as the next guy but I still have to respect Space X and what Musk has done to restore and respect free speech.

    Watching interviews with him my stance against him has softened considerably. Unlike may super rich in the media he seems to like freedom and America.

  9. Well, the 47 “newcomers” that they caught last week who scammed $250 million from medi-care (US tax dollars) were properly vetted also. Just the facts ma’am, just the facts.

  10. I agree with Hooker63.
    The accomplishment’s of Musk et al,
    especially given they are private versus government funded in nature, are incredible.

    Musk appears to simply keep his eye on the ball and moves ever forward in STEM for both profit and the technological betterment of society in toto.

    I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring…?!?!

    Another silent majority member.

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