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SpaceX’s third test flight of giant rocket ends in loss of contact

On Thursday (March 14), SpaceX (Space Exploration Technology Company)’s giant rocket conducted another test flight, flying farther than the previous two attempts, but lost contact while returning to Earth.

The company said the spacecraft lost contact about an hour after it took off from southern Texas, near the Mexican border, as it neared its target of splashing down in the Indian Ocean.

In both test flights last year, the rocket exploded minutes after liftoff.

Starship, the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, flew across the Gulf of Mexico after launching on Thursday. A few minutes later, the booster successfully separated from the spacecraft and fell into the bay. The spacecraft continued to fly eastward. There are no people or satellites on board.

An hour later, a SpaceX commentator said contact with the spacecraft was lost.

Dan Huot of SpaceX said: “The spacecraft lost contact. So there was no splashdown today. But again, it’s great that we have made so much progress this time.”

Previously, Elon Musk congratulated his team during the spacecraft’s voyage. “SpaceX has come a long way,” Musk said via X, formerly known as Twitter. That day also marked the company’s 22nd anniversary.

At 397 feet (121 meters) tall, the futuristic Starship rocket and spacecraft is far larger than NASA’s past and present moon rockets.

NASA is watching this closely: The agency needs Starship to succeed in order to send astronauts to the moon within the next two years or so. For at least the first few times, these new moonwalkers – the first since the Apollo program of the last century – will land on the lunar surface in “starships”.

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