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Here are the new maneuvers the Starship rocket will attempt on its third flight

Here are the new maneuvers the Starship rocket will attempt on its third flight

SpaceX innovates this third flight: in addition to the new maneuvers that will be performed mid-flight, the American company plans to crash the spacecraft in the Indian Ocean, and not in the Pacific Ocean anymore. If the missile does not explode first.

The third flight test of the spacecraft is scheduled for March 14, 2024. However, this is the tentative timeline that SpaceX shared on March 5. Like any test, this test will likely be rescheduled without notice to another date: especially if the FAA does not authorize takeoff.

Meanwhile, SpaceX shared this on its website Theoretical progress of the task. The first notable element to take into account: there was no longer any question of ending the voyage in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Hawaii, but in the Indian Ocean. This change is justified for security reasons and operational needs.

This new flight path allows us to experiment with new technologies, such as burning engines in space, while maximizing public safety », justifies the American company. Compared to the second flight, which was organized in November 2023, only a few maneuvers were planned.

The most prominent events expected during this attempt are the following:

  • The successful ascent of the two stages (Super Heavy and Starship) of the rocket,
  • Open and close the door for the cargo,
  • Fuel transportation demonstration in the upper stage,
  • The first Raptor engine re-ignition in space and the controlled re-entry of the spacecraft.
Source: SpaceX
The main stages of the journey. //Source: SpaceX

The entire sequence should last approximately 90 minutes. However, there is a possibility that the flight could go 'wrong', with one of the two stages being lost prematurely, halting the operation. This is what happened during the first two attempts, as the plane failed after four and eight minutes of flight, respectively.

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However, these failures are part of SpaceX's way of manufacturing, testing, and ensuring the reliability of its launch pads. The American company is conducting real tests, even if that means sacrificing prototypes, to collect data and make various corrections from one attempt to the next. It's an expensive approach, but it's worked so far.

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Source: SpaceXSource: SpaceX

All major phases of the spacecraft's third flight

00:00:02 Leaves ;
00:00:52 The moment of maximum mechanical stress on the missile (Max Q);
00:02:42 Turn off most engines (“MECO Booster”);
00:02:44 Separating the two stages and igniting the spacecraft's propulsion (“hot staging”);
00:02:55 Super Heavy engines ignite in preparation for return to Earth;
00:03:50 Extinction of very heavy engines;
00:06:36 Transonic booster.
00:06:46 Starting the engines to land the very heavy vehicle;
00:07:04 Stop the sequence
00:08:35 Shutting down the spacecraft;
00:11:56 opening the door;
00:24:31 Propellant transfer demonstration.
00:28:21 door's closing
00:40:46 Demonstration of a Raptor re-igniting in space;
00:49:05 Return of the spacecraft to Earth;
01:02:16 Transonic spacecraft.
01:03:04 Subsonic spacecraft.
01:04:39 Spacecraft landing.

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