SpaceX rolls Starship Super Heavy booster to launch pad ahead of 5th test flight (video, photos)

SpaceX is gearing up for the fifth test flight of its Starship megarocket, which could take place in the next few weeks.

The company just rolled Starship's giant first-stage booster, known as Super Heavy, out to the launch pad at Starbase, its facility in coastal South Texas. SpaceX documented the move via social media, posting four photos and a 30-second video on X on Tuesday.

"Flight 5 Super Heavy booster moved to the pad at Starbase," the company wrote in the photo post. "The booster passed the nearly complete Starfactory on its way to the pad," it added in the video post

The Super Heavy booster for the fifth flight of SpaceX's Starship megarocket rolls out to the launch pad at the company's Starbase site in South Texas. SpaceX posted this photo on X on July 9, 2024. (Image credit: SpaceX via X)

Starfactory is the huge new manufacturing facility that SpaceX is building at Starbase. When it's complete and fully optimized, Starfactory could churn out one Starship every day, SpaceX representatives have said. 

(Yes, SpaceX has a thing for "Star" names; in addition to Starship, Starbase and Starfactory, there's Starlink, the company's internet megaconstellation, which currently consists of more than 6,000 operational satellites.)

The 400-foot-tall (122-meter-tall) Starship is the biggest, most powerful rocket ever built. SpaceX expects great things from the fully reusable vehicle, viewing it as a breakthrough that will make grand spaceflight feats such as Mars settlement economically feasible.

Related: SpaceX's Starship 4th flight test looks epic in these stunning photos

The fifth Starship Super Heavy booster rolls past the under-construction Starfactory facility on its way to the launch pad. (Image credit: SpaceX via X)

Starship's four test flights occurred in April and November of 2023 and March 14 and June 6 of this year. 

Starship's two stages — Super Heavy and the 165-foot-tall (50-meter-tall) upper stage, known as Starship, or simply "Ship" — didn't separate on the debut flight, which ended in a controlled detonation just four minutes after liftoff.

But Starship performed better on each successive launch. Flight 4, for example, was a complete success, with both Super Heavy and Ship coming back to Earth for ocean splashdowns as planned.

Another shot of the fifth Super Heavy rolling out. (Image credit: SpaceX via X)

Flight 5 could feature another leap — catching Super Heavy with the "chopstick" arms of Starbase's giant launch tower, which would make refurbishment and reflight more efficient. 

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk recently said that the company aims "to try this in late July." That's when Flight 5 is expected to launch; last Friday (July 5), Musk said via X that the mission will lift off "in four weeks."

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.