SpaceX mega rocket makes fourth test flight from Texas

Starship mega rocket SpaceX took off from Texas Thursday, in the fourth test flight of the spacecraft in which POT and Elon Musk They trust to take humanity to the Moon and Mars.

The world's largest and most powerful rocket β€” nearly 400 feet (121 meters) tall β€” was empty as it rose above the Gulf of Mexico and was headed east on a planned hour-long flight. The spacecraft on top was intended to perform a half-circle around the planet with a splashdown in the Indian Ocean.

SpaceX sought to avoid explosions this time by controlling descents. Minutes after liftoff Thursday morning, the first-stage booster separated from the spacecraft and fell into the Gulf exactly as planned, after firing its engines.

β€œAnd we have a splashdown!” announced Kate Tice, a SpaceX launch commentator, from Mission Control at the company's headquarters in California.

It was a critical milestone in the company's plan to eventually return Starship's Super Heavy booster to its launch site for reuse.

SpaceX came close to avoiding the explosion in March, but lost contact with the spacecraft on its way out of space and it exploded before reaching its target. The booster also broke down in flight, a quarter mile over the gulf.

Both of last year's test flights ended in explosions shortly after taking off from the southern tip of Texas near the Mexican border. The first destroyed the platform at Boca Chica Beach and sent debris thousands of meters (feet).

SpaceX updated the software and made some changes to the rocket's return to improve the odds. The Federal Aviation Administration approved this fourth test on Tuesday, indicating that all safety requirements were met.

The Starship mega rocket is designed to be completely reusable. Therefore, SpaceX wants to control the entry of the booster into the Gulf and the descent of the spacecraft in the Indian Ocean, as this is planned as practice for future planned landings. Nothing will be recovered from Thursday's flight.

NASA has ordered a pair of Starships for two astronaut lunar landing missions, scheduled for later this decade. Each lunar crew will rely on NASA's own rocket and capsule to leave Earth, but will meet Starship in lunar orbit for the journey to the surface.

SpaceX is already selling tourist trips around the Moon. The first private lunar client, a Japanese tycoon, pulled out of the trip with his entourage last week, citing the often delayed schedule.

The SpaceX founder and CEO has grander plans: Musk envisions fleets of Starships launching people and the infrastructure needed to build a city on Mars.