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Despite a flap burn-through that had observers on the edge of their seats, SpaceX’s fourth test flight of its megarocket is being hailed as a stunning success. SpaceX founder Elon Musk posted on his social media platform X (formerly Twitter) “Successful soft landing of the Starship Super Heavy rocket booster!”

The 400-foot-tall rocket launched this morning (June 6) at 8:50 am EDT from its Starbase site near Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. Mission goals included bringing the first-stage booster (dubbed “Super Heavy”) back to Earth for a soft splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico; and a successful re-entry for 165-foot upper stage, (Starship, or simply, “Ship”) and a soft landing in the Indian Ocean. Both goals were achieved.

The nailbiting centered on the Ship, as in-flight video showed the controlling flap’s heat shield burn away during re-entry. But “the little flap that could” survived the intense heat and the stresses of the descent, enabling the Ship to “nail” its landing in the Indian Ocean.

During a live feed from company headquarters in Hawthorne, California, SpaceX spokesperson Dan Huot reported, “This whole building was going absolutely insane. When we saw the booster hit the water, I mean, wow.”

According to the SpaceX website post, “We’re continuing to rapidly develop Starship, putting flight hardware in a flight environment to learn as quickly as possible as we build a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond.”

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