Mission Success: SpaceX Launches, Lands Largest Rocket Ever Built

Jun 7, 2024

SpaceX’s huge Starship rocket survived a scorching re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere to splash down in the Indian Ocean on Thursday. The morning mission's success offers hope for future travel to the moon and Mars.  

The 400-foot-tall mega-rocket blasted off from SpaceX’s launchpad near Brownsville in South Texas just before 8am Thursday. Its first-stage booster, named Super Heavy, pulled apart from the upper rocket. It landed softly in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, its main ship went into orbit. It ventured far across the globe. Later came its Indian Ocean splashdown. 

It was the fourth test flight for Elon Musk’s massive rocket. This one had the most success. One rocket launched last April. It had to be destroyed after veering off course. 

As the main craft hit the ocean, frenzied cheers broke out at mission control at SpaceX’s StarBase in Texas, Space.com said. “This whole building was going (really) insane,” SpaceX's Dan Huot said from its main base in Hawthorne, California. “When we saw the booster hit the water, I mean, wow.”  

NASA has been closely watching the progress of Starship. The agency is hoping SpaceX can provide a mega-rocket. NASA wants one to ferry astronauts to the moon on its Artemis III mission. It's scheduled for late 2026. “We are (one) step closer to returning (humans) to the Moon through #Artemis — then looking onward to Mars,” NASA chief Bill Nelson wrote on X (formerly Twitter).   

Meanwhile, Thursday saw a second space success story. Boeing's Starliner capsule suffered minor issues to its thrusters before docking with the International Space Station. That was its first trip to orbit with astronauts. The CST-100 Starliner carried two veteran astronauts. Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Sunita "Suni" Williams were aboard.  

Reflect: How do you think successful rocket missions contribute to humanity's exploration of space?

Photo of the launch of SpaceX's Starship, from Reuters. 

What is the main focus of the story? (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. the successful launch of SpaceX's Starship rocket
b. Elon Musk's future ambitions for space travel
c. the successful launch of Boeing's Starliner capsule
d. NASA's collaboration with SpaceX on future missions
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