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SpaceX will try to stick the landing for new Starship test flight

March 26 (UPI) — SpaceX plans another attempt to fly and land the company’s Starship moon and Mars rocket over sometime over the next four days from Boca Chica, Texas.

The rocket company has filed for “no-fly” notices during daylight hours from Friday through Monday around the SpaceX launch facility in the community about 180 miles south of Corpus Christi.

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Previous test flights of the giant, stainless steel rocket ended in fireballs in December, February and March. The tests are part of SpaceX’s rapid prototype development methods, which the company used to develop its highly successful Falcon rockets.

Starship is one of three spacecraft NASA has chosen as possible means to send astronauts back to the moon this decade. The space agency intends to choose two proposals for those crewed lunar missions by mid-2021.

The other two lunar lander contenders are Amazon founder Jeff Bezos‘ Blue Moon lander and a craft under development by Huntsville, Ala.-based Dynetics.

Dynetics’ lander and Blue Moon would launch atop rockets under development, according to the companies involved. Those rockets would be United Launch Alliance’s planned Vulcan and Bezos’ New Glenn, which is under development by his space company Blue Origin.

SpaceX has entered the lunar competition with Starship as the only contestant planning a rocket and lander combination. To get to the moon, Starship would be launched atop an even larger booster, the Starship Super Heavy, which also is in prototype development in Texas.

“SN11 almost ready to fly,” company founder Elon Musk said on Twitter on March 16, more than a week before the planned test flights. SN11 refers to Serial Number 11 or Starship Number 11 for the 11th such prototype built.

As with previous test flights, SpaceX plans to send Starship over 6 miles high before its three Raptor engines cut off and it glides downward.

After performing a flip maneuver, the rocket will attempt to restart the engines and land upright as it did earlier this month — but without the subsequent explosion.

NASA, SpaceX launch historic mission to space station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew-1 lifts off from Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

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