Starship survives reentry to splash down in the Indian Ocean after successful fourth flight test

The SpaceX ship successfully executed a series of firsts, marking a major step forward in its development.

SpaceX’s Starship just soared through a series of critical milestones in its development, surviving reentry through Earth’s atmosphere and demonstrating a landing burn for the first time, before splashing down in the Indian Ocean. Starship lifted off from the company’s Texas Starbase at around 8:50AM ET for its fourth flight test, which focused on demonstrating the reusability of the massive spacecraft and the Super Heavy booster.

A few minutes after launch, Super Heavy separated from Starship and successfully performed a controlled descent to splash down in the Gulf of Mexico as planned. Starship continued flying for about an hour, starting its reentry a little after the 45 minute mark. Live views from an onboard camera made for a nailbiting final few minutes — at an altitude of about 33 miles above Earth, one of the ship’s flaps started to burn off. Then the camera cracked, obscuring the view so little more than flashes of light from plasma could be seen.

A flap on Starship is seen separating from the ship and burning
A flap on Starship is seen separating from the ship and burning

But the ship managed to stay intact enough to keep sending data all the way through the moment of its landing burn. SpaceX confirmed splashdown just before 10:00AM ET. The test marks a major success for SpaceX as it works to develop Starship as a transportation system that could carry humans to the moon and Mars.