SpaceX Hits Milestones in Successful Starship Third Test Flight

Starship hero march 2024

SpaceX successfully conducted the third test flight of its Starship spacecraft on Thursday, March 14, marking a significant achievement in the company’s quest for space exploration.

The test, originally scheduled within a 110-minute window starting at 7:00 a.m. CT, was closely monitored and broadcast live, providing global audiences with unprecedented live and clear footage thanks to the Starlink network.

The live webcast, which began approximately 30 minutes before liftoff, was available on X.

This latest flight built upon the successes and data gathered from the second flight test of Starship. Unlike traditional laboratory or test stand experiments, these flights place hardware in real flight environments to maximize learning and data collection.

Key objectives for the third test included the successful ascent burn of both stages of the spacecraft, operational testing of the payload door, a propellant transfer demonstration, and the pioneering re-light of a Raptor engine in space. Additionally, the test aimed for a controlled reentry of the Starship, following a new trajectory with a planned splashdown in the Indian Ocean. This trajectory allowed SpaceX to trial new in-space engine burns while ensuring public safety.

SpaceX’s rapid iterative development approach has been foundational in its history of innovation, as seen in projects like Falcon, Dragon, and Starlink. This approach is vital for the company’s ambitious goals of developing a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying crew and cargo to Earth orbit and beyond, including missions to the Moon and Mars.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President, shared her excitement over the test’s success, highlighting the significance of the day for SpaceX. She praised the team for their achievements in various aspects of the flight, including the Super Heavy boost, payload door cycling, and propellant transfer demonstration. Shotwell also acknowledged the impressive performance of the Starlink network in providing telemetry data during the test.

“Starship will make life multiplanetary,” said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, underscoring the spacecraft’s role in SpaceX’s broader ambitions for space exploration.

The best was seeing the “Pez” door demo that will soon launch out Starlinks like candy, while seeing for the first time ever, views through plasma as Starship was re-entering the atmosphere.

Starship liftoff:

Super Heavy reignited during hot-staging separation and did its flip move. It was not recovered however:

Here’s Starship coasting in space to some cool elevator music:

Pez door demo:

Starship re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Views through the plasma (incredible!):

Check out the full replay below: