SpaceX launches Starship from Texas in fourth flight test, lands Super Heavy in Gulf of Mexico

SpaceX launched Starship on its fourth flight test from Texas at 8:50 a.m. ET. The booster landed in the Gulf of Mexico about eight minutes later, marking the first successful soft landing.

BOCA CHICA, Texas SpaceX launched its Starship and the Super Heavy booster from Texas on Thursday, starting its fourth flight test for the reusable megarocket. 

Hours after the Federal Aviation Administration gave clearance for SpaceX to conduct its fourth Starship test flight from Texas, the space company announced it would launch on Thursday.

Starship blasted off at 8:50 a.m. ET, sending the 400-foot-tall launch system into the Texas sky. About eight minutes after liftoff, the Super Heavy booster came back down and made a soft landing in the Gulf of Mexico, marking the first successful landing of the giant rocket booster. Meanwhile, Starship continued on into space. 

For more coverage of the Starship flight test, click here. 

The FAA gave the go-ahead for Elon Musk’s company to perform the launch after it met all safety and licensing requirements for the uncrewed mission.

Attempts from its Boca Chica, Texas, facility in April and November 2023 failed to hit all the company's test goals. The most recent launch occurred in March, but the vehicle was lost prior to reaching its splashdown target.

Each event was followed by lengthy FAA investigations, which the company hopes to avoid so that it can proceed with its fifth test later this year.

SpaceX says the fourth attempt will mirror March’s mission with the goals of "achieving orbit and demonstrating the ability to return and reuse Starship and Super Heavy."


Thursday’s launch window was open for two hours.

Due to a dome of high pressure in place, the Lone Star State is in the midst of its first summer heat wave, with temperatures bottoming out in the 80s during the nights and reaching well over 100 degrees during the day.

Nearby Corpus Christi recently reported tying its all-time warmest low temperature of 85 degrees.

For Thursday’s launch, temperatures were in the 80s with light winds during the morning hours.


SpaceX continues to monitor weather conditions in the Indian Ocean, where Starship is expected to splash down.

"The fourth flight of Starship will aim to bring us closer to the rapidly reusable future on the horizon. We’re continuing to rapidly develop Starship, putting flight hardware in a flight environment to learn as quickly as possible as we build a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond," SpaceX said in a mission overview.

The nearly 400-foot-tall rocket and spacecraft are expected to carry a crew of astronauts to the Moon’s south pole as early as 2026 as part of the Artemis program.