Spacex's Starship IFT-4

4 days ago, the world’s most powerful rocket took off once again. With the goal of getting through reentry in a controllable state and a soft touchdown of Superheavy, the launch day came closer.


Just like the past few launches, SpaceX performed once again and launched right at the beginning of the launch window. After an excellent launch with just one Raptor out after a few seconds and perfect stage separation, the booster performed a boostback burn with all 13 Raptor engines running.


Just after boostback shutdown, the hot stage ring jettisoned successfully. As the ship followed its trajectory, the booster made its way back to Earth.

Booster landing
Booster debri

After seeing the grid fins working hard, at T+00:07:09, 12 out of 13 engines reignited, transitioned to 3 engines, and performed a landing burn. For the first time in Starship history, the Superheavy booster did a soft touchdown in the ocean. As the booster came into landing, you see debris coming from the engine section. Are these the remains of the one Raptor that didn’t light?


After a successful SECO, Starship went on a good trajectory around the Earth. As the ship came into reentry, we got stunning views from Starship.

As Starship got deeper into the Earth’s atmosphere, you can see plasma forming around it. Throughout the whole descent, it looked like Starship had full aerodynamic control over itself.


At T+00:58:00 you can clearly see that something unintentional happened. The forward right flap seems to have caught on fire. In the next minutes, the flap got even more damaged until the camera got covered and cracked.


After around 20 minutes of reentry, Starship’s last goal came into action. At just under a kilometer altitude, the Raptor engines ignited. The graphic in the bottom right corner didn’t show the relight, but as the landing burn started, you can see light coming from the engine section. Just then, you can see the ruined forward flap moving into position for the landing. And to everyone’s surprise, it looked like Starship nailed its landing. As seen in the telemetry and the graphic of the ship, it looked like it transitioned from horizontal to vertical, just like in the SN series.

With the ship tilting in the ocean, the test flight came to a successful ending with way more milestones than intended.
Congrats to the whole Starship team for this excellent launch.

What are your thoughts?
Did you watch the launch live?
What do you think about the engine performance?
How did it manage to land with the ruined flap?

(All this information is from my understanding, so if anything is wrong and misleading, please don’t go on me too hard)

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Brilliant! Thanks for posting this. I am curious about where the motors for the flap actuator are and how they are protected from the heat that makes stainless steel molten!

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I was wondering the same thing. I haven’t seen a photo of the motors on the inside. What was astonishing to me is that the flap still managed to stay attached during reentry and landing. Even at landing burn, you can see how the flap is just wobbling around.
Starship landing

Give the guy who designed the fin actuator a medal!

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