New Video of SpaceX Starship Flight

Video Caption: On December 9, 2020, Starship serial number 8 (SN8) completed a high-altitude flight test as it successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and demonstrated a first-of-its-kind controlled aerodynamic descent and landing flip maneuver – which will enable landing where prepared surfaces or runways do not exist, including the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Starship Flies, Explodes While Attempting to Land

Starship SN8 takes off from Boca Chica, Texas. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX flew its Starship SN8 vehicle for nearly seven minutes on Wednesday, but the ship exploded as it attempted to land at the test site in Boca Chica, Texas.

Starship SN8 in flight. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

The vehicle flew vertically, powered by three Raptor engines. One engine stopped, and then a second one stopped firing, leaving a sole Raptor to power the flight.

Starship SN8 flies on one engine. (Credit: SpaceX website)

“Successful ascent, switchover to header tanks & precise flap control to landing point!” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.

Starship SN8 in glide mode. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Starship then pitched and glided to its landing area. However, SN8 was not able to right itself using engine power before it struck the ground at 6 minutes 42 seconds into the flight.

Starship SN8 explodes on impact. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

“Fuel header tank pressure was low during landing burn, causing touchdown velocity to be high & RUD, but we got all the data we needed! Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!” Musk tweeted.

Prior to the flight test, Musk had estimated that SN8 had about a 30 percent chance of landing successfully.

SN8 was the latest in a series of Starship prototypes. SpaceX wants to use Starship and the Super Heavy rocket to launch crewed missions to the moon and Mars, satellites into orbit, and rapid point-to-point flights between distant locations on Earth.

Starship Flight Test Set for Next Week

SpaceX will attempt a high-altitude flight test of its Starship prototype sometime next week. Teslerati reports:

CEO Elon Musk says that SpaceX’s first fully-assembled Starship prototype is on track for its 15-kilometer (~50,000 ft) launch debut after completing a second three-engine static fire test on Tuesday.

Starship serial number 8’s (SN8) three Raptor engines ignited for a few seconds around 5:30 pm CST (UTC-6) on Tuesday, November 24th, less than four hours before a record-breaking Falcon 9 rocket  launched another batch of Starlink satellites roughly a thousand miles to the east. Perhaps briefly producing upwards of 600 metric tons (6000 kN/~1.3M lbf) of thrust, Starship SN8’s second triple-engine static fire was actually the first with that particular trio of engines.

Cameron County has posted the following schedule for closing Highway 4 and Boca Chica Beach to allow SpaceX to conduct the test.

TEMP. CLOSURE DATETIME OF CLOSURE
(CST)
CURRENT BEACH STATUS
Primary DateNov 30, 20207:00 am to 6:00 pmClosure Scheduled
Secondary DateDec 1, 20208:00 am to 5:00 pmClosure Scheduled
Secondary DateDec 2, 20208:00 am to 5:00 pmClosure Scheduled

Musk has estimated there is a one-in-three chance of Starship landing successfully. There are two more Starships in production.

FAA To Begin Environmental Review at SpaceX Texas Launch Site

Rendering of SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch complex. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) — SpaceX has informed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it plans to apply for licenses for suborbital and orbital launches of its Starship spacecraft powered by the Super Heavy rocket at its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.

The proposed update to Starship/Super Heavy operations  falls outside of the scope of the existing final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision for the launch site and requires additional environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

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SpaceX Ends Lease at Port of Los Angeles

SpaceX’s plan to build components for its Starship and Super Heavy boosters at the Port of Los Angeles is dead — again.

Elon Musk’s company gave notice to the port on March 27 that it was backing out of a lease to locate a research, development, manufacturing and recovery facility at a dilapidated structure on Terminal Island.

SpaceX gave notice just over a month after harbor commissioners approved a 10-year lease with two 10-year extensions on Feb. 21. The agreement was later approved by the Los Angeles City Council.

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SpaceX’s Starship SN3 Arrives at Launch Site

Video Caption: SpaceX Starship SN3 has arrived at the launch site and is being integrated ahead of a test campaign that includes pressure testing, Static Fire(s) and a hop.

Video and Photos by Mary (@BocaChicaGal) for NSF. Edited by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer)

Starship Goes Boom at Boca Chica

A cryo test went sideways in Texas on Friday night.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

SpaceX’s Starship vehicle was turned into a pile of debris on Friday evening at Boca Chica Beach in Texas.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

First, vapor appeared around the rocket at ground level.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

Then everything went boom.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

And boom.

Credit: STARSHIP CAM

When the smoke and flames cleared, a pile of debris was revealed.

Starhopper Aborts Hop Attempt

SpaceX’s Starhopper test vehicle aborted its first attempt at an untethered hop on Wednesday at the company’s test site at Boca Chica beach in Texas.

The company’s webcast showed a cloud of smoke rising from the vehicle indicating the engine had shut down right after ignition. Controllers atttempted to recycle the hop attempt, but ultimately aborted for the day.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the abort occurred because of abnormally high amount of pressure in engine’s combustion chamber.

Video: SpaceX Starhopper Fires Raptor Engine in Explosive Display

The test vehicle seemed to survive just fine. It looked worse than it was.