44 thoughts on “Moving Fast And Breaking Things”

  1. Interesting the number of detractors on various sites. Suspect mostly people that have never accomplished much but insulting those that do makes them feel better.

  2. Expensive is all relative. Booster bottoms are pretty robust. And then there’s the matter of SpaceX having already suffered a number of larger methalox explosions during Starship testing, none of which slowed the program down by much. This was certainly a setback, but probably won’t wind up being much of one.

    As for the premature crepe-hanging, we see that after every off-nominal SpaceX incident. The Web rewards click-bait. Before yesterday’s explosion, we had seen much pearl-clutching and hanky-twisting about the Cargo Dragon thruster propellant leak and B7’s collapsed methane transfer tube.

    1. And let’s not forget the drama over the Crew Dragon explosion during pad testing back in April 2019.

      Which was surely the most serious testing regime setback they’ve had in a long, long time. And yet, here they are, regularly shuttling both NASA and commercial crew up and back from orbit without incident, at a pace that’s as good as Russia and China put together.

      1. Oh, yeah. Meanwhile, the “actual proffesionals” at that other space capsule company have taken years to chase a bunch of problems that were the result of garden-variety incompetence and cheese-paring rather than exotic chemistry.

  3. Worst case – all the engines have to be replaced? $33 mil. And likely many parts can be reused….

    Compare this with the ‘professionals’ at NASA. It would take them two years to clear the pad and five to rebuild it.

    1. Worst Case is some busy body as NTSB will once again demand they get to investigate this and put up bureaucratic roadblocks to SpaceX moving forward.

    2. Might even be easier to just move on to Booster 8, and take Booster 7 back to the production site for more leisurely extensive examination, shuttling the Raptors back to McGregor for testing. And then, assuming B7 is basically salvageable, just use it for the *second* ordbital flight attempt.

      (I suspect that Raptor 2’s are now under the $1 million mark per copy, but even if not, that’s still a very manageable tab to pay for SpaceX at this point. These ain’t RS-25’s.)

    3. The actual proffesionals at NASA would never make a sloppy mistake like this one in the first place.
      Not the first time this happens with Starship either

        1. The actual professionals aren’t even running this level of test after decades. The boom with be during an “operational” flight.

      1. The actual professionals at NASA, despite being years behind schedule and billions over budget, couldn’t even get the static fire of legacy Shuttle engines to work right the first time. Nor could they get through a successful wet dress rehearsal without leaks.

  4. I was impressed by B7’s toughness. I can imagine the outcome for a similar explosion at the base of SLS would result in loss of vehicle and a year or two of tower repairs.

          1. What do we suppose happens if the SLS core implodes on the pad and then the SRB FTS fires? When I was at the Press Site for STS-1, NASA warned us if the Shuttle exploded we should all run indoors or to get under somegthing solid, as the explosion might throw gobs of burning SRB fuel that far out (3 miles) and the next day they moved the celebrity guest viewing stands back an additional mile, telling us, “You reporters are considered expendable.” Good to know! And the SLS SRBs are bigger and could take out Pad A and maybe even the VAB. (After the launch, I discovered the finish on my rental car was pitted!)

  5. Well it’s not looking good for making orbit this summer, I give them a coin flip for by the end of year. But I wouldn’t be surprised it be Next year. I suspect the Raptor 2 production rate still not quite right and can’t fully out fit the next booster immediately and the incompetent employees they got in Texas will find a way damage that one too. If Spacex had this trouble with the Falcon 9 they would of been out of business. Yes I know Falcon 1 wasn’t smooth but that was startup phase and building a relativity cheap rocket and showed enough promise they had a development contract from NASA that payed for it entirely without flying a rocket.

    This time around outside of the lander development contract that they won with already having a tech demo that far exceed contract spec flying before the reward could be handed out, but I have to think Starship development has already spent a good chunk of that contract without even counting the extra work and testing they need to meet the full contract terms. Besides another round of private funding which they already had to do recently or NASA coming to it sense and dumping SLS but that is a sunk cost at this point and can’t see NASA will want to submit it astronaut to the belly flop, flip and burn on return (Orion can’t fit in a starship cargo variant right?). They have to be hurting if this keeps dragging on and the delays to their hopeful cash cow of starlink2 to market.

    1. Even accepting that Raptor 2 production isn’t yet at rate, what is the alternative new engine production rate with NASA backing?

    2. Rand, you know the status of your blog is rising when you attract comments from Jeff Bezos.

  6. “I suspect the Raptor 2 production rate…”

    “…but I have to think Starship development has already..”

    Your suspicions and thoughts do not constitute facts and so all the “conclusions” you draw from them are meaningless.

    Non-engineer is more like it.

  7. Idle speculation. The Raptor 2s don’t have igniters in the main combustion chambers, only in the preburners. It looked, briefly, like some engines were trying to start by themselves (despite it being cold gas?), and Musk did say the Raptor 2s were “tricky” to start. I guess we’ll see GSE “sparklers” henceforth, like with RS-25s. Then again, there’s the famous RS-68 fireball…

  8. Maybe Starship is too big.
    So also Saturn V was too big and so is SLS.
    Big rockets should be launched from the ocean.
    I have had idea I call a Pipelauncher, and Starship is
    sort of too big for a Pipelauncher.
    A pipelauncher is simple, and to make Starship work, the pipelauncher has to be more complicated.
    I thought up idea of pipelauncher over two decades ago. And one thing wondered about was could you drop a pipelauncher from say 20,000 feet and could land in the ocean [without being destroyed]. I was not thinking of pipelaucher having rocket on it, I was just thinking just the pipelauncher.
    And recently wondering whether one de-orbit a “pipelauncher type thing and land it in the ocean.
    A pipelauncher is a long diameter pipe which is quite tall. Something like ratio of a pencil. And it has one end capped.
    Anyhow this orbitor lander pipelaunchish thing, in terms of dimension, was about twice the size of Starship, 19 meter diameter and 200 meters tall.
    And 80 meter of it, would be a capped pipe and remaining 120 meter would be a balloon tank filled with helium. Anyhow pipelaunchers are thin walled and this is very thin walled. So something like thin wall titanium. Anyhow it should have less terminal than human jumping out of plane from 20,000 feet. Or if this thing landed in ocean at 100 mph or less, it should survive it.
    Anyhow, Starship has heat tiles and will use thrust to land and is a reason you want it big. Or designed to land on Mars. As could pipelauncher type thing- if Mars had a lake.
    Anyhow a Starship is suppose to cheap, but if it explodes, it will not be cheap if launching from land.
    Anyhow a pipelauncher goes up and down – and you could submerge it. Or one have pipelauncher type things which could be removed from area by submerging them, prior to rocket blasting off. Leaving just pipelauncher which launches the rocket. And it seems could design to survive a rocket exploding- or only lost is the rocket and payload.

    1. You’d be throwing away the helium with every launch. Have you priced helium? I’ve heard the the helium a Falcon 9 uses costs more than the fuel.

      1. In regard to practical matters, it seems to get past test firing of first stage with 33 engine, it seems to me there will need to be less pure oxygen pooling below the test stand/launch mount

        1. Agreed. I suspect we’ll see some very large fans appearing at Starbase relatively soon as SpaceX typically takes the most direct path to solve a problem and mitigate risks.

          1. And/or use liquid air [N2 80% O2 20%] in the test [Or 50-50}. But can’t really do that a launch, but you can test other things.
            Also I would test 50% full thrust and use 50% as starting thrust of an actual launch

        2. Btw, I would use liquid air dropped in water to create air the same temperature as the water- to power a pipelauncher. Power meaning creating air which displaces ocean water so air at say 30 psi.
          Or +30 psi pushes water down about 20 meter- which creates massive buoyancy displacement [or how boats float- +1000 year old technology:)]

    1. The two eyes.

      I am fairly good at remembering stuff, but I don’t enjoy
      brainwashing myself. But I guess it would be more useful or wiser to do this.

      When asked myself what do I follow, my libertarian streak, said nothing.
      Then I thought maybe Zen, but I don’t know a lot about Zen.
      Then later on Dennis said God, but not the written works.
      And I agreed with that.
      Jews struggle against God.
      I am interested in God.
      I think you must “take God into account” somehow, to be interested in Science.
      I follow science a little bit, but I don’t obey science.
      I don’t struggle against God, but I might struggle a little bit with science.
      {Blog would not allow me to link directly- it’s an odd
      blog. Anyhow, I follow the Left, and that is about the Left}

  9. Are we anywhere closer to knowing exactly what went wrong? Just before the explosion there seemed to be a lot of vapors pouring out of multiple engines. A full on 33 engine spin test that found an ignition source by accident? What was the source?

    1. Well, there was “cups” to protect engines, they filled up and exploded like bonbs.
      Spaceflight live said Musk said. I don’t have that link,
      see if find another:
      Anyhow there was not much damage, which kind of support it. Anyhow they going to remove them and shield them some other way

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