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Starship to fly again in May, SpaceX aims to survive the plasma hell

Starship rocket tested as part of the preparations for the fourth test flight

The world's biggest space rocket of all time, Starship, is planned to lift off from Boca Chica, Texas, for a fourth time this May, Elon Musk announced on Twitter. This would mean SpaceX has cut the time between launches by half to just two months.

It also means that there were indeed no big concerns from the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), which has to issue the flight license for SpaceX before the launch can happen.

Starship's third integrated test flight was a huge spectacle for spaceflight enthusiasts and a huge win for SpaceX's engineers, who gathered a lot of crucial real-life data across the planned flight profile.

In mid-March, the Ship successfully separated from the Super Heavy booster—a process called hot-staging—before the booster was lost less than 500 meters above the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it was supposed to soft-land.

The Ship continued to fly towards the orbital velocity. However, it didn't perform the planned relight of a Raptor engine due to high roll rates. Those also played, seemingly, a huge role in the later loss of the Ship, as it was cutting through the gloving plasma during the reentry into the atmosphere.

The main goal for the fourth integrated test flight of Starship is "to get through max reentry heating with all systems functioning," Elon Musk says. As part of the preparations, SpaceX has already conducted the static firing of both the Ship and Super Heavy booster.

It was speculated that during the upcoming flight, Starship might carry its first cargo – a batch of Starlink satellites. However, SpaceX's president and chief operation manager, Gwynne Shotwell, confirmed in March that this won't be the case, as reported by SpaceNews.

As Neowin previously reported, Elon Musk hopes SpaceX can fly Starship more frequently in 2024 after being limited to just two flights in 2023. After the success of flight three, he is hopeful that the giant rocket will fly at least six more times this year.

This might be allowed by the prospect of the FAA granting a license for a batch of future launches instead of individual launches, as is the current practice.

Anyway, if May means too much waiting for you, don't forget to check Paul Hill's latest edition of This Week in Rocket Launches #159 to catch all the rockets scheduled to roar toward the sky in the upcoming days.

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