(NEWSnet/AP) – SpaceX’s mega Starship rocket blasted off from Texas on Thursday, the fourth test flight for the spaceship that NASA and Elon Musk expect will eventually carry a crew for moon and Mars missions.

The world’s largest and most powerful rocket — almost 400 feet tall — was empty as it soared above the Gulf of Mexico and headed east for its flight.

Splashdown took place in the Indian Ocean, a half orbit around Earth.

 

SpaceX sought avoid explosions this time by controlling the descents.

Minutes after Thursday morning's liftoff, the first-stage booster separated from the spacecraft and splashed into the gulf precisely as planned, after firing its engines.

“And we have splashdown!” SpaceX launch commentator Kate Tice announced from Mission Control at company headquarters in California.

It was a critical milestone in the company's plan to eventually return Starship’s Super Heavy booster to its launch site for reuse.

NASA has ordered a pair of Starships for two moon-landing missions by astronauts, on tap for later this decade. Each moon crew will rely on NASA’s own rocket and capsule to leave Earth, but meet up with Starship in lunar orbit for the ride down to the surface.

Follow NEWSnet on Facebook and X platform to get our headlines in your social feeds.

Copyright 2024 NEWSnet and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.