When will SpaceX’s Starship fly its fourth test flight?

Starship and Super Heavy hot staging during IFT-2 (Credit SpaceX)

When will SpaceX attempt to launch its fourth test flight of Starship?

SpaceX’s Gwynne Shotwell, speaking at the Satellite 2024 Conference, said the fourth test flight of the Starship rocket could come in as little as six weeks.

If SpaceX were to be able to turn around the launch pad and go through the test campaign with the next Starship and Super Heavy rockets in that time frame, it would show an incredibly improved cadence in their ability to test the launch vehicle.

SpaceX reveals new details on Starship’s third test flight

Elon Musk chimed in later on X, saying it would be possible “if everything goes right.”

This would include everything from testing to licensing from the Federal Aviation Administration, which has shown to be a fairly slow process.

While the third Integrated Flight Test (IFT-3) accomplished numerous firsts, there are still many areas for SpaceX to improve.

The company wants to recover both Super Heavy and Starship by the end of the year, but first, they need to successfully splash down Super Heavy just above the surface of the water and show they can maintain control of Starship while it is in space.

Starship launches from Starbase during the IFT-3 mission (Credit SpaceX)

As seen during IFT-3, Ship 25 started a spin, most likely to ensure an even temperature distribution (unconfirmed).

However, when it came time for Starship to begin its first-ever atmospheric re-entry, Ship 25 was unable to orient itself correctly. It ended up entering with only half of the heatshield facing the plasma buildup, eventually tumbling and breaking apart.

SpaceX is known for its rapid iteration, so it’s very likely these fixes are in place or will be soon, whether they be software or hardware fixes.

One bit of hope from the licensing side is that the FAA is looking at adjusting the licensing process. Kevin Coleman, the FAA’s Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, speaking at the same Satellite 2024 Conference first reported by Payload Space, said they want to move away from launch-by-launch approvals and give approval for a range of launches, which is what was originally intended when they reworked the Part 450 licensing a few years ago.

If SpaceX and the FAA can adjust the licensing process, SpaceX will be able to accomplish its goal of 6 to 9 Starship launches by the end of the year.

Do you think the 4th test flight will occur in around 6 weeks’ time or perhaps another timeframe?

Questions or comments? Shoot me an email at, or Tweet me @RDAnglePhoto.

When will SpaceX’s Starship fly its fourth test flight?
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