SpaceX’s Starship rocket has achieved a significant milestone in its third test flight, marking a remarkable leap forward in the company’s ambitious space exploration efforts. The two-stage spacecraft, standing at an impressive 120 metres tall, embarked on a journey from its launch site in Texas, propelling its upper stage into a trajectory that circled the globe before initiating re-entry over the Indian Ocean.

The flight, which saw the successful separation of the booster from the ship, proceeded flawlessly through each phase, showcasing the culmination of SpaceX’s relentless efforts to refine its technology. Despite losing radio contact towards the end of the mission, SpaceX founder Elon Musk expressed delight with the outcome, highlighting the substantial progress achieved compared to previous test flights plagued by mid-flight failures.

While not all objectives were met, with the booster missing its intended controlled descent and the ship skipping a planned re-ignition, engineers remain optimistic. The data gathered from this test will inform future adjustments, ensuring that the development of the world’s most powerful rocket stays on course.

Starship’s revolutionary design, boasting 33 engines and unprecedented thrust capabilities, promises to redefine space exploration. With the vision of fully reusable rockets akin to commercial airliners, SpaceX aims to drastically reduce the costs associated with space missions, opening up new possibilities for scientific research and commercial ventures.

For Musk, Starship represents a crucial component of his ambitious Starlink project, which seeks to establish a global network of broadband internet satellites. The recent test flight showcased the spacecraft’s capability to deploy payloads, laying the groundwork for further expansion of the satellite constellation.

Moreover, Starship holds immense potential for advancing human space exploration, with plans to ferry astronauts to the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. As SpaceX refines its technology, ensuring safety and reliability will be paramount before crewed missions commence, with NASA targeting late 2026 for potential human flights.

In the aftermath of the test flight, the Federal Aviation Administration announced an investigation into the mishap, a standard procedure following any anomalies during commercial spaceflight missions. SpaceX will lead the inquiry, analysing both successes and setbacks to gather information for future developments.