SpaceX successfully launches and lands world’s largest rocket

Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched and landed the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, the Starship, from its Starbase in Texas. The rocket’s booster separated and splashed down in the ocean, while the spacecraft orbited Earth and executed a controlled landing burn before descending into the water.

Despite losing many heat-resistant tiles and suffering damage to one of its descent-control flaps, SpaceX maintained control of the spacecraft until it splashed down. Musk celebrated the achievement on Twitter, praising the SpaceX team for the milestone.

This was the fourth test flight for Starship, with previous tests ending in destruction at various stages. SpaceX plans to conduct its next test mission soon. Eventually, NASA and Musk hope to use Starship for human missions to the Moon and Mars. So far, all flights have been uncrewed.

The nearly 400-foot tall rocket launched over the Gulf of Mexico, with its first-stage booster separating as planned. The spacecraft then completed a half-lap around Earth, splashing down in the Indian Ocean. SpaceX indicated that the splashdown proceeded as intended, with a successful landing burn easing its descent.

Earlier tests of Starship faced challenges, including explosions and a booster rupture. SpaceX improved the rocket’s software and flyback capabilities, receiving FAA approval for this fourth test. Designed to be fully reusable, Starship’s controlled descent practices aim to perfect future landings. However, nothing was recovered from this flight.

NASA has commissioned two Starships for upcoming moon missions. SpaceX also plans private lunar trips, although recent delays led to the withdrawal of the first private lunar customer. Musk envisions fleets of Starships enabling human colonization of Mars.