SpaceX rolls Starship Super Heavy booster to launch pad ahead of 5th test flight (video, photos)


SpaceX is gearing up for the fifth test flight of its Starship megarocket, which could take place in the next few weeks.

The company just rolled Starship’s giant first-stage booster, known as Super Heavy, out to the launch pad at Starbase, its facility in coastal South Texas. SpaceX documented the move via social media, posting four photos and a 30-second video on X on Tuesday.

“Flight 5 Super Heavy booster moved to the pad at Starbase,” the company wrote in the photo post. “The booster passed the nearly complete Starfactory on its way to the pad,” it added in the video post.

aerial shot of a big silver rocket rolling along a seaside roadaerial shot of a big silver rocket rolling along a seaside road

aerial shot of a big silver rocket rolling along a seaside road

Starfactory is the huge new manufacturing facility that SpaceX is building at Starbase. When it’s complete and fully optimized, Starfactory could churn out one Starship every day, SpaceX representatives have said.

(Yes, SpaceX has a thing for “Star” names; in addition to Starship, Starbase and Starfactory, there’s Starlink, the company’s internet megaconstellation, which currently consists of more than 6,000 operational satellites.)

The 400-foot-tall (122-meter-tall) Starship is the biggest, most powerful rocket ever built. SpaceX expects great things from the fully reusable vehicle, viewing it as a breakthrough that will make grand spaceflight feats such as Mars settlement economically feasible.

Related: SpaceX’s Starship 4th flight test looks epic in these stunning photos

a big silver rocket rolls along a road past a low-slung but very large dark buildinga big silver rocket rolls along a road past a low-slung but very large dark building

a big silver rocket rolls along a road past a low-slung but very large dark building

Starship’s four test flights occurred in April and November of 2023 and March 14 and June 6 of this year.

Starship’s two stages — Super Heavy and the 165-foot-tall (50-meter-tall) upper stage, known as Starship, or simply “Ship” — didn’t separate on the debut flight, which ended in a controlled detonation just four minutes after liftoff.

But Starship performed better on each successive launch. Flight 4, for example, was a complete success, with both Super Heavy and Ship coming back to Earth for ocean splashdowns as planned.

ground-level view of a large cylindrical rocket rolling along a road, with blue skies in the background.ground-level view of a large cylindrical rocket rolling along a road, with blue skies in the background.

ground-level view of a large cylindrical rocket rolling along a road, with blue skies in the background.

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Flight 5 could feature another leap — catching Super Heavy with the “chopstick” arms of Starbase’s giant launch tower, which would make refurbishment and reflight more efficient.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk recently said that the company aims “to try this in late July.” That’s when Flight 5 is expected to launch; last Friday (July 5), Musk said via X that the mission will lift off “in four weeks.”



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