Elon Musk shares target date for fifth Starship test

Elon Musk is revving up excitement for SpaceX’s Starship megarocket, aiming for its fifth flight sometime in “late July.” This upcoming launch could be the most spectacular yet for the towering 120-meter-tall rocket, as SpaceX plans a daring maneuver: catching the first-stage Super Heavy booster mid-air.

This ambitious move isn’t just for show—it’s a game-changer in rocketry. By successfully catching the booster with robotic arms upon its return to Earth, SpaceX aims to achieve reusable rocket technology at an unprecedented scale. This means the booster could be quickly refurbished and reused for multiple missions, significantly driving down the costs of future Starship ventures.


Musk teased the July target date in a typically casual reply on X, responding to an animated post illustrating how the catch maneuver might unfold. “Aiming to try this in late July!” Musk announced, sparking a flurry of anticipation among space enthusiasts.

The animation depicts a scenario where robotic arms stationed on the launch tower snatch the descending booster shortly after it separates from the upper-stage Starship spacecraft. This groundbreaking approach contrasts with SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 rockets, which land upright but without the aid of robotic assistance.

Explaining the rationale behind the catch, SpaceX highlighted its benefits in a published document: reducing the launch vehicle’s mass, simplifying hardware logistics, and facilitating rapid turnaround between launches—a pivotal advancement in spaceflight efficiency.

Starship, renowned as the world’s mightiest rocket, has already logged four missions since its maiden voyage in April 2023. Its most recent flight, earlier this month, marked a significant milestone with successful landing burns for both Super Heavy and Starship, despite ending in water.

Looking ahead, SpaceX envisions Starship playing a pivotal role in lunar missions and, potentially, pioneering human exploration of Mars. While crewed flights to Mars remain a distant horizon, the prospect of Starship’s capabilities promises to redefine the future of space travel, one robotic arm catch at a time.