SpaceX says it's ready for Starship's fourth test flight from Texas

If the FAA grants SpaceX its modified launch license, the company said it could attempt the fourth test flight of Starship and the Super Heavy booster as soon as June 6 from its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.

Elon Musk's company, SpaceX, said it plans to launch another Starship rocket from Texas about two months after its third test flight of the new vehicle reached space.

SpaceX said it could launch Starship as soon as this Thursday if the Federal Aviation Administration gives the company a green light. The launch window could open around 7 a.m. CT.

The fourth test flight will be the quickest turnaround time yet for SpaceX's mega-rocket and Super Heavy booster from its launch site in Bocha Chica, along the Texas coast.

SpaceX has been attempting to achieve orbit since April 2023. During the third attempt in March, Starship made it to space but was lost on re-entry. 

After each attempt, SpaceX undergoes a mishap investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and makes any changes before another Starship launch. 

SpaceX and the FAA have been conducting a mishap investigation since the March test flight. NASA and the National Transportation Safety Board also participated in the review. 


If the FAA grants SpaceX its modified launch license, the company said it could attempt the fourth test flight of Starship and the Super Heavy booster.

SpaceX modifies Starship ahead of fourth flight

Last week, SpaceX published its findings after the third flight test and has since made changes to Starship to correct what went wrong.

The last test was the most successful yet, with Starship reaching space and the first ever Super Heavy booster landing burn attempt, but both were destroyed before making it to a controlled landing. 

SpaceX said that during flight three, when the Super Heavy booster began initiating its boost-back burn for landing, six Raptor engineers shut down early, and the booster was lost about 1,500 feet over the Gulf of Mexico about 7 minutes after launch.

"The most likely root cause for the early boostback burn shutdown was determined to be continued filter blockage where liquid oxygen is supplied to the engines, leading to a loss of inlet pressure in engine oxygen turbopumps," the company said. 

Since flight three, SpaceX engineers added more hardware inside the oxygen tanks to improve filtration and prevent blockages. 


Also during flight three, Starship made it to the coast phase in space and even completed a payload door test, making a propellant transfer demonstration moving fuel from one tank to another. SpaceX said the fuel transfer is critical for future missions, including NASA's astronaut missions to the Moon under the Artemis program. 

However, after entering the coast phase, Starship lost the ability to control its position, triggering a re-entry. SpaceX said the lack of attitude control caused more heating than anticipated on the vehicle, and Starship was lost about 40 miles above Earth nearly 50 minutes into the flight. 

SpaceX said teams have determined the issue with Starship was clogging in valves responsible for the vehicle roll control. The company has added additional roll control thrusters for redundancy.

SpaceX said the FAA review process was quicker this time because neither the Starship nor the Super Booster Heavy were destroyed by the vehicles' automated flight safety system.

"During Flight 3, neither vehicle’s automated flight safety system was triggered, and no vehicle debris impacted outside of pre-defined hazard areas," the company said. "Pending FAA finding of no public safety impact, a license modification for the next flight can be issued without formal closure of the mishap investigation."

With the changes implemented, SpaceX completed a launch dress rehearsal in May ahead of the next launch attempt. 

If the fourth flight test achieves its landing goals, the Starship will launch from Texas and splash down in the Indian Ocean.