Skip to main content

SpaceX’s mighty Starship rocket stacked for 3rd test flight

SpaceX's Starship spacecraft stacked atop the Super Heavy booster ahead of its third test flight.
SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft stacked atop the Super Heavy booster ahead of its third test flight. SpaceX

SpaceX has stacked the Starship rocket in preparation for its third test flight.

The Elon Musk-led company shared photos (below) of the stacked Starship — comprising the first-stage Super Heavy booster and the upper-stage Starship spacecraft — in a social media post on Tuesday.

Starship stacked for flight pic.twitter.com/ELpadHrlHz

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 12, 2024

Musk also posted a time-lapse showing the Starship being lifted onto the top of the main booster.

pic.twitter.com/ZCr5p8fgQI

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 11, 2024

SpaceX said recently that it could launch the 120-meter-tall (395 feet) Starship on its next test flight as early as March 14, but added that it was dependent on it first receiving flight permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). At the current time, it’s not clear if the FAA has given that permission.

The rocket will lift off from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, with its 33 Raptor engines producing a record 17 million pounds of thrust to power it skyward.

The Starship’s first two test flights saw the vehicle explode minutes after launch, though, unlike the first effort in April last year, the most recent launch in November saw the Starship successfully separate from the Super Heavy. This time the team wants to get the Starship to orbit.

It also has a number of other goals that it’s keen to achieve, including “the successful ascent burn of both stages, opening and closing Starship’s payload door, a propellant transfer demonstration during the upper stage’s coast phase, the first ever re-light of a Raptor engine while in space, and a controlled reentry of Starship.”

Once fully tested, the Starship is expected to be used to carry cargo and crew to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. It could also be used for space tourism trips around the moon and even carry the first humans to Mars.

But before then, SpaceX needs to make some solid progress with the Starship’s development. With that in mind, there’s a lot hanging on the Starship’s third test flight.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Watch SpaceX’s Starship burn brightly as it hurtles toward Earth
SpaceX's Starship reentering Earth's atmosphere.

SpaceX surprised a lot of people on Thursday morning when its mighty Starship rocket managed not to blow up seconds after liftoff.

The Starship -- comprising the first-stage Super Heavy booster and upper-stage Starship spacecraft -- enjoyed its most successful test flight yet following two short-lived missions in April and November last year.

Read more
SpaceX’s Starship reaches orbit on third test flight
spacex starship third test flight screenshot 2024 03 14 143605

SpaceX's mighty Starship rocket has made it into space on its third test flight. The rocket, launched at 9:25 a.m. ET today, March 14, took to the skies over the Starbase launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas, and made it to orbit but was lost before the planned splashdown in the India Ocean.

The vehicle consists of the lower section, the Super Heavy booster, and the upper section, the Starship or ship. The two were stacked together ahead of today's flight and achieved separation a few minutes after launch. This tricky maneuver involves cutting off most of the booster's 33 Raptor engines and disengaging clamps connecting the booster to the ship. The ship then fires its own engines to head onward into orbit.

Read more
Watch SpaceX’s cinematic video previewing Starship megarocket test
spacex cinematic video previews starship test

After a long wait, SpaceX has finally received permission to launch the third test flight of the Starship, the most powerful rocket ever to have flown.

This means that SpaceX can proceed with its originally stated plan to launch the Starship -- comprising the first-stage Super Heavy booster and the upper-stage Starship spacecraft -- on Thursday, March 14. Digital Trends has all the information you need to watch a live stream of what promises to be a spectacular event.

Read more