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SpaceX sets spaceship launch goal: Don't get burned this time| GuyWhoKnowsThings

Starship, the giant rocket developed by Elon Musk's SpaceX, launched Thursday morning to make a fourth attempt to reach space and return.

The vehicle's three previous flights ended in explosions, but each one went further than the last. Such progress is considered a success in SpaceX's break-it-then-fix-it engineering approach and has been celebrated by some of the company's fans. These include Bill Nelson.the NASA administrator, whose agency depends on Starship to take astronauts to the Moon.

Here's what you need to know about today's ongoing launch attempt.

The last Starship lifted off from the launch pad at SpaceX's site in south Texas, outside Brownsville. As with the other three flights, there are no people on board. One of the Super Heavy booster's 32 engines failed to ignite, but the others propelled the vehicle into space. Minutes later, the booster stage successfully separated from Starship's upper vehicle, which continued its journey into space.

The launch began at 8:50 a.m. ET on Thursday, nearly halfway through a two-hour launch window that opened at 8 a.m. Moments before the scheduled launch, crews concluded loading propellants into the vehicle's two stages.

SpaceX provides live video launch coverage in XMr. Musk's social media service, or you can watch it in the video player included above.

With the Starship spacecraft atop what SpaceX calls a super-heavy booster, the rocket system is, in almost every way, the largest and most powerful ever created.

The rocket is the tallest ever built: 397 feet tall, or about 90 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, including the pedestal.

The rocket also has the most engines ever seen on a booster: the Super Heavy has 33 of SpaceX's powerful Raptor engines protruding from its underside. As those engines lift Starship off the launch pad, they will generate 16 million pounds of thrust at full throttle.

For Musk, Starship is actually a ship to Mars. He imagines a fleet of spaceships that will transport colonists to the Red Planet.

For NASA, the vehicle will be a lunar lander that will take astronauts to the surface of the moon for the first time since 1972.

In the short term, SpaceX also plans to use Starship to deploy the next generation of Starlink Internet communication satellites.

An even more transformative feature of Starship is that it is designed to be completely reusable. That capability has the potential to reduce the cost of sending payloads to orbit, so sending 100 tons into space one day could cost less than $10 million, Musk predicted.

A couple of weeks ago, after a successful launch test, Musk wrote in X that for this flight, “the primary goal is to achieve maximum reentry heating.”

In other words, you don't want the vehicle to burn out.

During launch, Starship reaches orbital speeds of more than 17,000 miles per hour and reaches an altitude of 145 miles. As the spacecraft returns to the atmosphere, it experiences temperatures of up to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

For a completely successful flight on Thursday, Starship would endure that heat and then land in a remote part of the Indian Ocean. Another goal is to soft-land the first stage, the Super Heavy booster, in the Gulf of Mexico.

On future operational flights, both vehicles will return to the launch site and be trapped in one piece by the launch tower. Those attempts are still in the future.

The previous release in March it first reached speeds fast enough for Starship to enter orbit. The climb included a new successful twist: hot staging, when some of the second stage engines ignited before the Super Heavy booster, or first stage, separated and fell.

Starship's second stage accomplished some of its goals while cruising in space, including opening and closing the spacecraft's payload door and a demonstration of propellant movement between two tanks inside the vehicle.

But as it slid past the highest point of its trajectory, Starship began to roll out of control. Onboard cameras captured the orange glow of hot plasma beneath the spacecraft. About 49 minutes after launch, it disintegrated and communications were lost at an altitude of 40 miles.

At the beginning of the flight, the Super Heavy booster was to simulate a landing over the Gulf of Mexico. But six of the 13 engines used for that maneuver shut down prematurely.

SpaceX blamed blockages in the flow of propellants as the most likely cause of the losses of the Starship and the Super Heavy booster. The company said it had made changes to address those issues.

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