SpaceX announces upcoming Starship Flight 4 launch date of June 5 and discusses lessons learned from Starship Flight 3.

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SpaceX’s Starbase facilities in southern Texas are getting ready to launch its giant Starship rocket on its fourth flight test as early as June 5. Just than three months have passed since March 14, when Flight 3, the planned launch date, took place.

Two blogs on SpaceX’s website detailed the lessons learned from Flight 3, the goals of Flight 4, and the schedule discrepancies between the two stages of the development program.

On June 5 at 7 a.m. CDT (8 a.m. EDT; 1200 UTC), the launch window for Flight 4 is scheduled to open. They are still awaiting regulatory certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as SpaceX points out.

Unlike Flight 3, SpaceX will not be attempting to operate the payload bay door or reignite the vacuum engines on the upper stage during this newest iteration of the mission.

“In the fourth flight test, our primary objective shifts from reaching orbit to proving that Starship and Super Heavy can be returned and reused,” SpaceX announced. “Controlled entry of Starship and execution of landing burn in the Gulf of Mexico with the Super Heavy booster will be the primary objectives.”

SpaceX announces upcoming Starship Flight 4 launch date of June 5 and discusses lessons learned from Starship Flight 3.

Lessons learned:

In a blog post, SpaceX detailed the parts of Flight 3 that were successful and the parts that caused the accident. Successfully transferring propellants, or “moving liquid oxygen from a header tank into the main tank,” was one of the accomplishments.

“This test provided valuable data for eventual ship-to-ship propellant transfers that will enable missions like returning astronauts to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program,” SpaceX said in a statement.

The third flight, like the second, saw the rocket successfully ascend via stage separation. The most recent cycle expanded upon the previous one by completing a full-duration ascent burn with the Starship upper stage.

The third flight of the Super Heavy rocket experienced “a loss of inlet pressure in engine oxygen turbopumps” due to a clogged filter, according to SpaceX. According to the report, this is the main reason why six out of the thirteen Raptor engines utilized in the boostback burn shut down early.

There were seven engines left for the landing burn, but only two were found to have accomplished “mainstage ignition” after the six that shut down too soon were deactivated.

“When contact was lost at about 462 meters in altitude over the Gulf of Mexico and just under seven minutes into the mission, the booster had lower than expected landing burn thrust,” SpaceX revealed.

“To further improve propellant filtration capabilities,” SpaceX promised additional hardware upgrades to the oxygen tanks of the Flight 4 Super Heavy rocket and subsequent ones. In order “to increase startup reliability of the Raptor engines in landing conditions,” they will also be installing new software and hardware.

The Starship upper stage experienced an issue with attitude control during descent from orbit. The rocket started rolling accidentally, which caused “the ship seeing much larger than anticipated heating on both protected and unprotected areas.”

The company explained that the unanticipated roll was likely caused by clogged valves that regulate the roll. “In order to make future Starships more resistant to blockages and to increase attitude control redundancy, SpaceX has installed extra roll control thrusters and upgraded hardware.”

SpaceX announces upcoming Starship Flight 4 launch date of June 5 and discusses lessons learned from Starship Flight 3.

Timeline adjustments:

Mission timetable watchers will notice a number of notable changes, including updates to both hardware and software, as well as a few others. The fueling process is one area that underwent significant improvements before to launch.

On Flight 3, SpaceX started by adding liquid oxygen to the Starship’s upper stage at T-53 minutes, and then two minutes later, they added liquid methane. In Flight 4, the order is reversed, and liquid oxygen is launched two minutes after liquid methane at T-49 minutes.

A minute after T-42 minutes, liquid methane was added to the Super Heavy rocket during Flight 3. Liquid methane and oxygen are introduced into Flight 4 at T-40 minutes and three minutes, respectively.

SpaceX has been busy making modifications to the storage tanks for liquid oxygen and liquid methane in the tank farm near the pad, but they haven’t explained why the fueling process has been reversing. Over the previous few months, as part of the ground systems development, the vertical tanks were swapped out with horizontal ones.

In total, Starship’s fuelling time will be around four minutes less than the last mission. Additionally, the time required to fully fuel a Falcon 9 rocket is just under 11 minutes more.

There have also been some adjustments to the launch schedule. The mission’s completion, which is still set at around 1 hour and 5 minutes, is still labeled as “An exciting landing!” However, Flight 4 simplifies things a lot by eliminating several of the extra flight objectives.

However, the schedule was revised to include three crucial events: one just before liftoff and two in the mission’s final stages.

Just before the four-minute mark, SpaceX will remove the hot-stage adapter that was installed between Starship’s first and second missions. This will happen after the Super Heavy rocket has performed the boostback burn.

For the “final phase of flight,” SpaceX claims to be doing this in order “to reduce booster mass.”

The so-called “landing flip” at T+01:05:38 and the landing burn five seconds later are the other two events that were included in this current iteration.

“Starship is targeted to splashdown in the Indian Ocean on Flight 4, following a similar trajectory as the previous flight test,” SpaceX announced. “We can maximize public safety and still meet our primary objective of a controlled starship reentry using this flight path, which does not require a deorbit burn for reentry.”

SpaceX announces upcoming Starship Flight 4 launch date of June 5 and discusses lessons learned from Starship Flight 3.

Path to launch:

The goal launch date of Wednesday, June 5, is dependent upon receiving FAA certification, as SpaceX mentioned on Friday. The SpaceX-led accident investigation into Flight 3 is still ongoing, but the business is aiming to resume flights before the probe is completely closed out by utilizing an existing FAA clearance system.

“Both vehicles’ automated flight safety systems were not activated during Flight 3, and no debris from the vehicles came into contact with areas that were not previously identified as hazardous,” stated SpaceX. “If the FAA determines that there will be no negative impact on public safety, they can issue a license modification for the next flight without officially closing the accident investigation.”

Spaceflight Now reached out to the FAA on Friday for response, and the agency informed them that they had received SpaceX’s request for a public safety assessment. If the FAA agrees, SpaceX will be able to fly while the accident investigation is underway.

With regard to commercial space transportation launch and reentry activities, “the FAA is responsible for and committed to protecting the public,” the agency declared. The ongoing examination into the Starship OFT-3 disaster occurrence was prompted on April 5 by SpaceX’s request that the FAA make a public safety assessment. At every stage of the assessment process, the FAA will be guided by statistics and safety as they examine the request.

The development process at SpaceX and NASA both benefit from getting to launch as frequently and as much as feasible. Currently set for September 2026, the rocket will be used to enable a crewed landing on the Moon’s surface during the Artemis 3 mission. Last year, NASA announced a postponement of the project’s launch from December 2025 to a date nearly a year later.

Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA, stated during a recent budget hearing with the Senate Appropriations Committee that the agency is keeping a careful eye on the progress of Starship in preparation for Flight 4.

According to Nelson, “Artemis 3” combines elements from several Apollo missions, including the ones that landed on the Moon (Apollo 9, 10, and 11) and the portion of Apollo 8 that completed ten orbits of the Moon. “Getting the lander ready is a major concern, and the landing itself is contingent upon SpaceX’s readiness.”

“Now they have accomplished everything they set out to do, and in a matter of weeks, they will launch that massive rocket with 33 Raptor engines on its tail, and they will do even more to prove that it is space-worthy,” Nelson added. “I am crossing my fingers that SpaceX’s lander will be prepared.”

 

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