Starship fails better, lost before orbit

Starship-Superheavy explodes over the Gulf of Mexico, 18 Nov 2023, Credit to the independent news website
Explosion over the Gulf of Mexico during Starship Test Flight 2, 18 November 2023 (Source)

It’s back to the drawing board for SpaceX, which suffered another loss-of-payload minutes after its Starship mission stage separated from its Superheavy booster on 18 Nov 2023. The US Federal Aviation Administration had approved a second test flight for SpaceX Starship from its launch site on the south Texas coast, after a disastrous first test pelted the launch area with blasted concrete and beach sand, then ended barely within the control of the range safety officer.

By media accounts, the Texas launchpad was not visibly damaged, and all 33 engines on Superheavy ignited and remained stable. Stage separation with a new “hot staging” method succeeded; this is a key goal that made this test notably more successful than the last. Superheavy did not land as planned, instead exploding in the air soon after stage separation. Starship continued to fly, and may even have crossed the McDowell line, but contact was lost at around 90km altitude when Starship also exploded.

The new SpaceX rocket is the tallest and heaviest rocket ever launched. In a less impressive display of vertical integration, the official SpaceX livestream was exclusively hosted on sister firm Twitter, which no longer provides open access to its video feeds. SpaceX video was not immediately available from other sources. The launch was also monitored by independent photographers.

Author: Fargo Orbit

The Fargo Orbit delivers science and aerospace news from a vantage point in the centre of North America.