25 thoughts on “Continuing To Learn”

      1. BN-1 is a learning test-bed for the construction crew. Figuring out how the fabrication is different, the way to fit things right, getting a feel for the scale, etc. They will also probably “test to failure” the tankage and such in not too terribly long.

  1. I sort of get why to launch in the fog. They have TFR and the vehicle is instrumented. The test, if flawless, shouldn’t care about the fog.

    But it wasn’t flawless, and there is less data to review without external video footage. It seems dumb and hasty not to wait for the fog to lift.

    1. I don’t like to second guess SpaceX but I agree Leland. There is still a lot to be learned with this system. The more observability the better. I have no doubt Starship will be able to launch under TFR conditions. Just not yet. There isn’t a need. It has been done, fine you can mark off that checkbox, but as for me, more data.

  2. My understanding is BN1 is going to be scrapped shortly. SN12-14 have been scrapped already, and SN15 heads for the pad as soon as may be. Musk says SN20 will be the first orbital attempt, with BN3 or maybe even BN2 as its booster. He also noted ascent to orbit is all that’s necessary for Starship to be an operational success. It’s four times cheaper than Falcon 9, with four times the capacity (so, what? sixteen times cheaper overall?).

    My other understanding is, SN11 suffered a two-engine relight failure and the autonomous FTS triggered. I wonder if the fog launch had something to do with the FAA (“Okay, inspector, you’re here. Do we launch or not, your call…”). And now the FAA has been shown the AFTS works just fine, so no more bleats about “danger to the public.”

    1. Was it destroyed by the FTS, did it just blow up on relight, or did it collide with a UFO that was hidden by the fog?

      Anyway, I’m wondering if an FTS is even warranted for any phase of landing. It the ship is intact, it’s going to come down slowly in the belly flop orientation, and blowing it up during that maneuver would just increase the size of the uncontrolled debris field. If the belly flop can’t get it to the pad, it would be better to dump it into the water. I could see using the FTS if it was doing an out-of-control flop over a populated area, but I don’t know if that would increase or decrease the risk to the public.

      If it gets to the flip turn and fails, there’s probably less danger in letting it slam into the ground than blowing it up while it’s still high in the air, as illustrated this time by the rain of pretty large debris coming down.

      1. These are all excellent points. Keep the debris field as small as possible. It’s the difference between a rifle shot and a shotgun blast. I think almost all FTS scenarios should involve over or into water.

      2. I don’t know if the flight termination system for Starship includes a destruct package or not. It might just shut the engines off. That’s the way some private launch companies are going. Sea Launch did it that way. It depends on the nature of the system, and the circumstances of launch. I doubt they would include destruct in the people-carrying version.

        The FAA doesn’t have “go/no-go” say on console. The biggest hammer they have is license revocation. It could be done quickly, I suppose, but I’m not sure about in real time (as in during the last part of a countdown).

        1. The Starship FTS does include a destruct system, two packages of explosives that pop the tanks. And as far as I know, for Starship, post SN8, there is an FAA inspector on site for every launch, who does have a say. That’s new and unique to SpaceX, I think. SN8 (and politics) made the FAA bring a bigger hammer.

    2. The FAA does seem rather unhinged at the pace that SpaceX is driving this process. I guess decades of the lackadaisical pace that NASA and “Big Rockets Inc.” develop hardware has had its mark.

      1. Yes, it’s probably stressed in ways that it’s never been stressed before. And I do mean since it’s creation in 1958.

    3. Why no SN12 to SN14? I think they need to do more test flights. Try to get a few landings before going into production.

      1. From what Elon has said, they’ve learned so much from SN8-10 that 12-14 were redundant and thus scrapped, while SN15 has incorporated all the upgrades and is functionally a new design.

      2. It seems likely the SN8-class prototypes were never going to stick the landing (other than by luck), so 12-14 were scrapped. Especially since the next iteration, starting with SN15 is about ready to go. If 15 does stick the landing, and especially if it flies again, I don’t know what will happen to 16-19. Probably depends on how soon we see BN2 testing. July is coming fast!

  3. Eerie. As far as I could tell watching it, the ship itself was doing fine (onboard cameras), but it had moved into a different dimension. Nothing to see from elsewhere.
    I guess debris rained down, which kind of spoils the story.

  4. I have the inescapable feeling it has to do with whatever tweaks they made to the tank pressurization system this flight. Did we get a catastrophic hard start on one of the other two engines?

    1. The sort of “squeak” that’s the last sound before the clock freezes was probably the hull rupturing. As to the cause, I only have hearsay, and no way to distinguish real insider info from the usual Phony Braggarts of the InterDweebz.

  5. I’m still wondering, other than the need to get the darn thing into the air to belly-flop it for testing, how much semblance does the initial liftoff have to the real life way this will be used?

    I mean, Starship is a second stage, not a first stage, so are the “launches” causing noise and distraction in the test results (and engineering) compared to if you could somehow find a way to drop it out of the sky to test?

    Or is the Starship intended to be a SSTO vehicle on bodies with shallow gravity wells?

    1. And by “intended to be a SSTO vehicle”, I meant “intended to ALSO be a SSTO vehicle”. I fully understand that Starship is a second stage based on my second paragraph.

    2. Seems to me that building a 1st stage to test the SNs would be far more work than it would be worth. The Raptors are going to be used on Super Heavy too, so the data that they’re getting is valuable for that as well, without make these tests any more complex than needed.

    3. What would you use to air drop something the size of Starship? The current test models weigh in at around 220,000 pounds, around five times the payload of the largest helicopter you can actually buy (Mi-26, I think? Payload 44,000 pounds?). You couldn’t fly it off the back of a 747 like STS; it can’t glide, only fall straight down. It’s too big for White Knight. So basically the cheapest way to get it up that high is to launch it.

      Starship could fly as an SSTO from Earth, but with no useful payload. Funny thing is, if you strapped on a couple of SLS SRBs and launched it from LC-39B, it’d reach orbit with maybe 20 tons of cargo. That’d be hilarious.

      1. You know, the Artemis-1 SRBs are already stacked in the VAB and waiting, with a nice empty space between them, crawler, mobile launcher, and all. I wonder how hard it’d be to barge SN15 to Florida? That’d sure make me snort cereal out my nose!

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