SpaceX’s massive Super Heavy-Starship returns to Earth without exploding after first full test flight

SpaceX’s Super Heavy-Starship rocket achieved its first successful full test flight on Thursday, returning from space and landing safely without exploding after launching from Texas.

The test mission was the rocket’s fourth attempt to launch and return safely to Earth.

“Despite loss of many tiles and a damaged flap, Starship made it all the way to a soft landing in the ocean!” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted on X.

The nearly 400-foot Starship rocket, which is designed to be resusable, launched from the company’s Starbase launch site near Boca Chica Village in South Texas. 

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SpaceXs Starship

SpaceX’s Starship launches its fourth flight test from the company’s Boca Chica launchpad near Brownsville, Texas, U.S., in this handout picture obtained on June 6, 2024. (SpaceX/Handout via Reuters / Reuters Photos)

The Super Heavy booster detached at an altitude of 46 miles, allowing Starship to use its own engines to fly further into space. 

SpaceX's Starship

SpaceX’s Starship rocket and Super Heavy booster both returned to Earth without exploding, demonstrating SpaceX’s goal of creating reusable equipment. (SpaceX/Handout via Reuters / Reuters Photos)

Super Heavy made a planned soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico as Starship hit hypersonic speeds of more than 16,000 mph at about 125 miles in altitude. Starship returned to Earth over the Indian Ocean and splashed down without exploding. 

SpaceX's Starship

Despite pieces breaking off the rocket during re-entry, the rocket was able to transmit data of the test flight through its splashdown in the Indian Ocean. (SpaceX/Handout via Reuters / Reuters Photos)

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Images show the pieces of the rocket breaking off during re-entry, though it was still able to transmit data all the way through to the splashdown site.

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Starship’s first two test flights ended in explosions, while its third test flight launched but broke apart during re-entry.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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