Tomorrow’s Test Flight

What NASA wants to see.

[Saturday-morning update]

From my X feed:

Successes today: 1) Successful hot-stage separation 2) Got second stage close to planned suborbital trajectory 3) (And really important for next flight) water-deluge system seems to have protected the pad, so nothing preventing next attempt except fixing whatever caused failures

OK, a fourth success today: There seemed to be no engine failures on either stage right up until both were lost, so they’ve gotten over that hump, especially with the 33 Raptors on the booster. Huge success in terms of data gathered for further improvements in hardware/ops.

Question: Why would an FTS be triggered at that altitude/range? What’s the hazard to the ground? This is in fact the first I’d heard that the second stage even had an FTS.4551

Maybe because it was designed to enter intact, and they were concerned it would be an uncontrolled entry and hit someone downrange. I sure hope they’ll take that FTS off for operational flights with valuable cargo (including humans). Aircraft don’t have one.

68 thoughts on “Tomorrow’s Test Flight”

  1. “Depending on who you ask, SpaceX may need to launch a dozen or more refueling tankers to fill up the methane and liquid oxygen tanks on the Starship lunar lander, which will have emptied its tanks just to get into low-Earth orbit following launch on top of a Super Heavy booster.”
    The second stage doesn’t need to reentry Earth’s atmosphere. SpaceX might want it to be able to do this, but it doesn’t need to. So it could be smaller and it could be aluminum rather than stainless steel.
    And also the second stages refueling, don’t need to recover any of the stages, though seems such task of refueling, would a good one, in order to try recovering both stages.

    1. “And also the second stages refueling, don’t need to recover any of the stages”

      I’ve been at the gas station when they get fuel delivered. They don’t throw out the trailer when they’re done, they haul it back to the depot and fill it up again. Saying that the second stage doesn’t need to be reused just because it’s a refueling stage is anathema to the entire purpose of a fully reusable Starship stack.

      1. “Saying that the second stage doesn’t need to be reused just because it’s a refueling stage is anathema to the entire purpose of a fully reusable Starship stack.”

        SpaceX got few billion dollar contract with NASA.
        NASA is “slightly” concerned about SpaceX delivering it’s contract on time. One could call that “concern” highly misleading, but at some point is could be a concern.
        It seems Musk is saying he has different options of how Starship is developed.
        What seems a more important “concern” of NASA is SpaceX “needs” to launch from Kennedy Space Center. As Boca Chica has a limited amount of launches “Allowed”- which even if Starship is reusable, quickly, could slow down NASA’s “schedule”.

        So, a serious NASA would promise that no government actions is going to slow down Starship development- but we know enough about that.

        1. The accumulation tanker (so called because depot was forbidden by Congress when the plan was conceived) will never land but is reusable in space for multiple missions. My guesstimate is that the AT will arrive in LEO with 300 tons of residual propellant, then each standard tanker will deliver 150. I think the LSS will require no more than 1200 tons to fly LEO to NRHO to Moon to NRHO. That translates to no more than 6 tankers. Add the AT and LSS and that’s 8 launches per lunar landing mission (of which 7 are tankers). Getting LSS back to LEO for refurbishment and reuse depends on whether it can aerobrake or not. Given the large span between each SLS-Orion flight, there’s no hurry.

          1. “My guesstimate is that the AT will arrive in LEO with 300 tons of residual propellant, then each standard tanker will deliver 150.”

            Why not send two with a residual propellant of
            300 tons. Or four or six.
            And/or why is the Starship much different than Starship which starts with 300 tons of residual propellant, which lands crew on the Moon.
            So SpaceX makes a bunch them, rather than 1 or two of them. And making more could lead improvements as more are built.

          2. An unrefueled Starship cannot get to the surface of the Moon other than as a ballistic missile. Tankers carry no other payload. Etc. As far as forgetting about reusability, surely Falcon 9 shows why not? Cadence. With full reusability, one tanker can lift the fuel to the accumulator by flying six times. In fact, two reusable tankers could support the cadence supported by six expendable tankers. The cadence can’t be reduced below that due to orbital dynamics, until the middle future day when Rand’s eLEO economy comes into existence (as it must, if there is to be a Mars colony).

          3. “An unrefueled Starship cannot get to the surface of the Moon other than as a ballistic missile.”
            Well, you mean and leave the Moon. Saturn V could get crew to surface and leave the surface.

            It seems if one wants to return Starship to Earth, you might want to test returning a Starship from lunar orbit to Earth surface.
            Of course, at this point, it hasn’t been shown to be able to do it from Earth’s orbit to the Earth’s surface.
            But once Starship can return safely from Earth orbit, it seems one can one have many options.
            And it’s one thing to return to Earth surface, but what about with 100 tons of payload?
            Would NASA pay 1 billion dollars to return ISS
            to the Earth’s surface?

          4. No, an unrefueled Starship could not land on the surface of the Moon, it would impact the surface at lunar escape velocity. Saturn V didn’t land on the Moon, it delivered the Apollo stack to translunar injection. The Apollo CSM used its own resources to place the stack in lunar orbit, then the LM use its own resources to deliver itself to the surface. It’s payload was the lunar ascent stage, which had a crew cabin smaller than my household lavatory.

            Starship is bigger, and could deliver the Artemis CSM, Blue Moon lander and a DIVUS-based kick stage through TLI, whence it could conduct an Apollo-style lunar mission.

            By contrast, a fully refueled Starship could deliver 100 tons of cargo to the lunar surface, then return itself (minus the cargo) to the Gateway station in NRHO.

            This stuff’s not arcane lore, nor hard to look up, but you do have to know it to think about what’s possible.

          5. –No, an unrefueled Starship could not land on the surface of the Moon, it would impact the surface at lunar escape velocity.–

            The current boilerplate Starship has not got to orbit yet and in last test launch, the second stage, apparently nearly used up “all it’s rocket fuel” not getting to orbit. But it’s boilerplate rocket which wants test reusing it’s stages and needs to keep enough of rocket fuel in order to test this, so using up it’s fuel, depends on how fuel margin was planned to be used for this part of the test. And also much loaded into rocket before it was launched.
            The Starship has vast amount of cargo space, it’s got more than enough for lunar crew landing. You could reduce this amount of cargo space in order to land crew on the lunar surface- and still call it, Starship, or call it the Lunar Starship. The main aspect of Starship is the 33 methane rockets on first Stage and 6 on second stage- but you even change those number of engines and still call it the Starship.

            A question is how long will SpaceX continue to launch boilerplate Starships, it seems more than another year, but within a year SpaceX could launching Starship which are not counted as a boilerplate rocket and a lunar Starship may be boilerplate rocket, but probably not the one that put crew on the Moon.

      1. Isn’t refueling needed for Starship to successfully reach the lunar surface, even with no notion of returning? If so, I can’t imagine the government holding out a ton of animosity to try to quash the refueling tests or being significantly onerous in the likely event of a failed test.

        With refueling on the critical path for Artemis III, it’s not in the [entire] government’s interest to cause unnecessary headaches vis a vis additional regulatory burden above and beyond what has already been agreed to.

    1. Indeed. This was a massive improvement over the first test flight. I can only hope that the government won’t drag out the investigation and remediation process. Let SpaceX investigate, remediate, and fly again as soon as possible (2-3 months). Had the government treated every rocket failure in the 50s and 60s the way they treated Starship, we likely would never have achieved orbit.

      1. The core stage of SLS likewise didn’t survive, but nobody made a big deal out of it.

        39 Raptors seems to perform flawlessly, which is as many statistical data points as we got from the first 13 Space Shuttle missions.

      2. Agree on all points. It really took only five months after the first test to massively rebuild/upgrade the GSE and revamp the vehicle to support hot-staging. The other two months separating the test flights were lost purely to government paper-pushing. On that basis, a further round of upgrades to incorporate lessons learned from today’s test should allow another test before year’s end – assuming no governmental shilly-shallying comparable to what went on before IFT-2.

        1. Yes I know a nitpick, but why didn’t they launch on Friday if the ship was ready to go and just sitting around for 2 months.

          1. I would guess a last minute test of the grid fin actuators revealed a dault that would not have been detected during the previous waiting period. It’s not like they did such system tests every day of the down period. Nor should they.

          2. Have you ever tried to take an airline flight only to have it delayed for a maintenance issue? Airliners are maintained on a regular basis, but sometimes, things still break down. That actuator could have broken as a result of repeated testing over time. It might have worked fine a week or a month ago, only to fail or underperform during a more recent test. Stuff breaks. The fact that SpaceX was able to destack the Starship and hot-staging ring, fix the actuators, and restack it on the pad in only about 11 hours is rather amazing. Imagine how long it would take to destack and make a similar repair to SLS.

      1. So both stages “blowed up, real good!”, but these were commanded self destructs as part this stage of the testing?

        1. The RUDs were successful tests of the FTSs, but FTS activation was not part of the planned flight test profile. The nominal planned profile was a tail-first powered splashdown for each vehicle, the booster in the Gulf and Starship near Hawai’i.

  2. A big concern of the FAA was the performance of the FTS. Two large KBs probably go a long way to alleviate their worries.

    1. As I pointed out before the regulatory burden seems to be a function of the Stage involved. With the heaviest burden falling on Stage 0. That appears to have performed flawlessly and perhaps to be ready for early reuse. FWS permitting.

      FAA has to be happy with the way the FTS performed on both stages. We’ll see where we go with this moving forward. But everyone must remember this is first and foremost an experimental rocket system, not a tried and true “transportation system”. We lost sight of that in the early days of Shuttle. But it was NASA that messed up there not the regulatory regime. I hope our regulators and the politicians that supervise them can keep this in mind.
      I think most people who frequent this blog understand what proper roles are. This rocket system has to evolve. That means rapid changes and retries. Not months of paper shuffling. I feel the jury is still out when it comes to deciding if the United States is capable of being a space faring nation in this century. And the limitation isn’t technological.

      1. In the future the Starship Project will be a joint effort by the rival republics of California and Texas, our last best hope for peace.

        1. Why would Musk invest another nickel in California? He’s got a new factory in Austin, and can build his rockets most anywhere.

          1. I’m darned if I know. Yet since escaping to Texas he went back to San Francisco to turn Twitter into X and start xAI.

      2. What I find most concerning are statements coming from the FAA as if they feel obligated to investigate any and every abnormality when it comes to failures of this big rocket. Left unsaid is to what end? FAA’s role here needs to be clear and explicit. It us NOT ‘mission’ or flight objectives success. It is or should be safety of people and property on Earth and in air flight and that is all. Rocket issues on an experimental rocket that preclude reaching all the test objectives AS DEFINED BY SPACEX are SpaceX’s responsibility to fix not the FAA.

        1. The FAA review after the first test was SOP as well, and was a review of SpaceX’s remediation steps.

          Even if the flight went 99% right, SpaceX would be required to submit a report detailing the 1% issue and their remediation. It’s not unexpected by either party and neither nefarious nor antagonistic, to my understanding.

  3. Great job SpaceX.

    Putting my marker guess on issues. On first stage, after separation, the engine on/off indication showed some already off engines pop on. If that is not an instrumentation issue (maybe caused by another issue) then those engines would cause an unplanned rotation. If similar software bug in second state, then they need to work on simultaneous shutdown and safing. Of course, could be something that broke post shutdown with remaining propellant near by, or many other possible issues.

    They got data and they had great success.

    1. When I rewatched the stage sep, the booster appeared to be under control after it did the flip, or at least wasn’t tumbling all over the place, though I was pretty surprised at how quickly it rotated. That’s a lot of mass to slow down and/or redirect, so I wouldn’t be shocked if there were control issues that weren’t obviously manifest on the video stream.

    2. Scott Manley suggests plumbing issues may have led to engine failures that subsequently resulted in FT. The booster did undergo rapid rotation. May have caused line pressurization issues that may have led to over lean operation. Not sure what’s up with 2nd stage underperforming. Not visible. Hopefully SpaceX will share what it learned from telemetry. We’ll see.

        1. I initially wondered whether the rapid maneuver and relights slammed the fuel around hard enough to do some damage, something ullage burns are designed to prevent. Obviously you don’t want to accelerate the dry weight of the stage into propellant that’s at the top end of .the tank, which would make a violent collision. And in such a rapid flip, angular accelerations to re-orient the stage could cause the tank to slams sideways into the propellant when the stage’s rotational acceleration is reversed. And such goings on would be wildly different for the oxygen tank versus the methane tank.

          But the engine failures on relight were initially on one side, which is what you might get if gaseous propellant was mixed in the feed lines while the booster was laying horizontally, where the engines on top got starved as propellant drained back to the down-comer.

          It could be that a few tweaks to the control code to make a gentler flip, or to let the propellant feeds get stabilized before the big relight, would fix the problem.

      1. Just saw Scott’s video and it is well done. I think his ideas about fuel slosh for first stage are good and explains why I saw engines re-ignite (they were supposed to), but not fully (some failure happened, perhaps lack of fuel). I know engines RUD quickly when the propellant to oxygen mixture isn’t correct.

        As for the Starship orbiter, SpaceX will need to explain the early engine cutoff (I didn’t know the target speed before watching Scott’s video, I just knew they weren’t planning a full orbit). Again, Scott’s analysis is good. I also liked Scott pointing out tile loss, which will also need to be resolved.

        I’d say my guess was jumping a bit to conclusions and actually was much more negative than what Scott observed. The issues Scott noticed won’t necessarily be easy to fix, but if he’s right, then the 1st stage test was much closer to a complete success than I thought.

        1. After reviewing Scott’s analysis and reviewing the SpaceX video yes you can definitely see the 2nd Stage Starship begins to vent at 7:06 into flight and from that point on you can see the propellant sliders drain rapidly. Whatever caused the leak seems to have prevented Starship from getting into the correct trajectory and one can speculate that the first subsequent puff seen after that was engine shutdown which the graphic seems to confirm followed by a much larger puff and telemetry freezes. So there is some good video evidence from SpaceX’s ground based cameras after all. Scott speculates that failure to obtain proper insertion might have triggered the FTS. Note just prior to the 7 minute mark it appears a better filter was applied to the video that enhanced its contrast enough to see this. Kudos to whoever did that.

          1. A rapid propellant leak from both tanks implies a pretty catastrophic event. Perhaps a COPV ruptured or valve failed and overpressured a tank? Or maybe the display is misleading due to a loss of communications.

          2. Actually Scott thought it was only a LOX leak and his video does seem to show it falls faster than the LCH4 slider, again assuming the sliders accurately reflect the telemetry.

            It would help to know if these were RUDs or commanded via FTS. I withdraw my previous comments about FTS activation until I learn more.

      2. Scott Manley may well be right. It appeared to me that the hot staging was fully successful. The booster’s problems appeared to happen during the very fast backflip and engine ignition for the boost back burn. Perhaps fuel starvation or a plumbing issue started the chain of events, but that’s just speculation. I remember the failure on the Falcon 1’s third flight was fixed by allowing a few seconds of coasting between MECO and staging to account for residual thrust. It’s a long shot, but maybe delaying for a few seconds and slowing the flip maneuver could help prevent future problems.

        1. He said that at separation the velocity of the first stage actually decreased, and that’s a very bad thing if it was still facing forward because the fuel in the methane downcomer would want to move up instead of down, creating a large void, and a rapid flip might make the methane situation worse.

          During the hot fire, there were three Raptors pushing the super-booster forward (at 40 or 50% thrust I think), but the exhaust gases of six Raptors were pushing it backwards. I assume SpaceX’s propellant tank cameras showed what went on.

          Solving it may be as simple as tweaking how they fly the stage during separation and boost back, making sure they keep the propellants calm and happy before lighting lots of engines.

          The missing tile issue may be more problematic, as it gets into that statistical situation the Shuttle was in, where the bet is that none of the critical tiles will be lost today. It could be a addressed by tighter testing and quality control, or it might be an inherent problem that some small amount of tiles are occasionally going to suffer brittle fracture almost no matter what. If that’s the case, a rethink will be needed.

          Perhaps they could come up with a sophisticated tile monitoring system, perhaps with a fiber optic cable run as a grid to read each tile location, simply detecting if a tile is present or not. A more complex solution might turn the mounting studs into a water spray system that’s plugged shut by the tile, much like an overhead sprinkler. Unlike the original seepage idea, with millions of small holes in the structure, just covering the area where a few missing tiles are wouldn’t require much coolant.

          1. George on your points. For the first stage ullage issue perhaps a delay before initiating the flip maneuver and light up a few more Raptors in the straight line orientation to get the propellants back into position. Or perhaps a gaseous nitrogen surge back into the tanks at that point down into the tank heads to force propellant ullage without risking starting starving engine mixtures at that point. But keep the orientation straight to give the propellants time to resettle.

            As to your 2nd point TPSes are a bitch. It would be ironic if Elon had to return to ceramic blankets if he can’t get these bolt ons to hold up. Your sprinkler system is a bit Rube Goldbergic but I’ll top you one better. Instead of water ditch the tiles altogether and replace them with an ablative ooze that gets squirted out and continually pumped onto the surface until temperatures fall below the steel skin melting point. No, I have no idea what that could be. Like the original high temperature material Kelly thought he’d found for hydraulic fluid for the SR71 showing up as a powder in a burlap bag at room temperature when he ordered some.

    3. It wasn’t instrumentation. In the video you can see those engines glowing after sep. They were on.

  4. “Question: Why would an FTS be triggered at that altitude/range?”
    Well, they lost signal because of FTS. or lost signal and if lose signal the FTS activates??
    Or they simply planned to do FTS, to test FTS. Maybe in future they use less explosives, if this FTS “test” indicates significant “overkill”?

    It seems to me the most important part of second test launch was to as quickly get to the third and fourth Starship launch as soon as possible.
    And it seems the ground infrastructure is going to cause the longest delay, as compared to having another rocket to launch.
    Or rapid turn around to launch more rockets is key aspect- and not having FAA slow that down- getting to point where Starship and launch as fast as Falcon-9 launches.
    Or if it can’t it’s not really much better than Falcon-9.

    1. Scott Manley’s video suggests no FTS for either stages. When he slows down the destruction of the 1st stage, and based on his suggestion of sloshing causing engine ignition problems and stress on the structure, the initial burst of the first stage seems to be near the area between the propellant and oxygen tanks. This would be akin to Challenger’s break up, when once the SRB burn through weakened the ET, the internal tanks lost structural integrity, collided, burst, and then fireball.

      1. I agree with you on the first stage but it’s nearly impossible to tell from the video of the second stage. Hopefully SpaceX can shed some light on this.

    2. SpaceX Starship Launch 2 (IFT2) Explained!
      He tends go with idea that both stages had FTS activated.
      Maybe it was planned to be very trigger happy.
      The video also showed a lot tiles missing.
      I wonder if they can detect when and where tiles are lost, it might be useful to do in test launch.
      If they could know, that might a reason to do FTS- in terms of being “very trigger happy”.

      1. The Everyday Astronaut put together a truly amazing compilation of 4K video and – especially – audio of this launch:

        I had the pleasure of seeing three Saturn V launches live, including the last one (the Skylab Workshop) from as close as people were allowed to get (a little closer, actually…heh heh). These videos took me back to those events very forcefully. As awe-inspiring as those launches were, Starship takes launches to a whole new level. Saturn V staging was performed very conservatively, and of course the lower stage wasn’t required to do anything except stay the heck away from the upper stage. The iconic films from the S-II of the S-IC falling away were pretty impressive, especially knowing that the latter was a giant, 308,000 lb piece of hardware. Watching the ballet maneuvers of the Super Heavy booster, about twice the mass of the S-IC, blew me away. My wife and I have, separately, worked on a total of about a dozen government “flyback booster” programs, none of which ever got past the viewgraph stage, and none of which were anywhere near as ambitious or audacious as what we have just seen in actual flight.

        Elon’s accomplishments in space launch surpass anything any nation has ever (or will ever) accomplished. It’s the most dramatic demonstration of the superiority of the Ayn Rand concept of human creativity we have ever seen, IMHO.

  5. I’ve not been following the news on this since OFT 01, so could someone mention to me the reason the abandoned the rotating separation method they intended for the first flight? The reason I ask is that adding a forward heat shield to the booster to enable hot staging adds 20,000 lbs, so there’s surely a reason.

    I suspect the fuel-slosh theory regarding booster loss may be correct. I’m more puzzled by the loss of the ship. I hope we’ll learn more soon.

    IMHO, this was a great test flight, in that it was far more successful than the first. Sill, there were failures, so IMHO it’s SpaceX’s learn-by-flying methods in action. The failures on this launch could have been avoided via accepting a launch delay of a decade, plus costs of many billions, but for some odd reason SpaceX chose otherwise. I happen to think they got it right.

    1. They abandoned the rotating separation technique because the stages didn’t separate at all on the first flight.

    2. If you are asking why they decided to adopt hot staging, it is because Elon’s engineers calculated that doing so would give Starship an additional 10% of payload mass, even with the added weight of the hot staging ring.

  6. Question: Why would an FTS be triggered at that altitude/range? What’s the hazard to the ground? This is in fact the first I’d heard that the second stage even had an FTS.4551

    Keep in mind that the velocity of the second stage is far short of escape velocity at that point. A lot less would burn up in atmosphere and more of it would survive to be a danger to people on the ground.

    1. Erm, at five minutes after separation, it probably was somewhere near escape velocity – though the energy to dissipate is still the square of the fraction of velocity. At the point of second stage separation, the vehicle would have been traveling about half of escape velocity and thus, somewhat more than a quarter of the energy of reentry that one would get from a return from orbit.

      1. The targeted velocity was just shy of *orbital*, not escape. The flight plan was to have everything back down in the atmosphere in no more than 90 minutes, no matter what, that’s why it was a deliberate suborbital mission.

  7. Another consideration, am I correct when I seem to recall that for Starship tank pressurization was to be regenerative? Meaning some propellant from both closed cycle turbo pumps was being placed back into the tanks? Are they following the same method for SuperHeavy? Doesn’t this method presuppose that there aren’t large external forces acting on the rocket that could disturb this process? Was this method only intended for Starship and isn’t used on Superheavy? This was a few years back when I read about this so maybe the world changed on this topic while I wasn’t paying attention!

      1. autogenous not regenerative. Thanks for the correction. Maybe they need either a few more engines lit prior to staging or up the throttle a bit on the ones that still are?
        That Superheavy can relight just goes to show again how advanced this rocket is.

        1. The initial press before launch is with ground-supplied helium, providing a bubble of non-condensible gas in all the tanks. This helps prevent pressure collapse by condensation if a big slosh mixes cold liquid with the hot pressurant gas, but a sufficiently energetic slosh can still crash the tank pressure and that might have contributed to the engine flameouts.

          1. Both sound likely. The slosh might have created voids in the feeds due to applied forces, while condensing the autogenous pressurant and dropping overall tank pressure. A gentler flip-turn might avoid the issue but it would cost them some payload, and Musk is trying to maximize payload (thus the hot staging). I assume they have video of the inside of the tanks, so they may already know the exact cause.

            The solution might be as simple as a slower flip and just burning the three center engines for a brief while to complete the flip and get the fuel settled back down, and perhaps additional helium tanks in case they need to repress in a hurry, though there would be a lot of empty tank volume to contend with.

            If simple fixes won’t work, I suppose they could add the complexity of header tanks large enough to handle everything after the flip, so that the flip itself is performed with nearly empty main tanks.

          2. If you take a half filled glass of water, tilt it in an orientation like the second stage was in, then it is easy to see a “deep” area and “shallow” area which looks to me to correspond nicely to which engines successfully relit and which did not.

            They were so close, but then if they succeeded, it might have been luck and they wouldn’t know for certain the likelihood of the risk. If they indeed added 20,000 lbs of structure to support hot staging, might 20,000 lbs of extra propellant give the necessary margin? Of course, neither would be needed if you didn’t attempt to recover the first stage, which is the main reason (a damn good reason) it failed.

          3. Helium is what I was trying to think of. I said Nitrogen above. I think that is what they use for cryogenic testing not for tank pressurization.

  8. My guesses from watching the flight live:

    The behavior of the engines post flip suggests they starved out, from slosh or low fuel (the frost lines were slim) or both, and that alone could have triggered automatic FTS. The easiest answer might be restoring the booster header tanks to give margin and pressure. No biggie, if so. I hope it wasn’t an ullage collapse, though.

    The upper stage began leaking lox a little while before scheduled shutdown. Eventually the FTS fired, but telephoto shows the whole upper part of Starship (basically the cargo part) emerging intact. What’s odd about that is, the header tanks are in the nose. Shouldn’t they have their own FTS charge? There is vapor visibly coming out of the surviving hull, which tore off above the forward dome.

    Final judgment” “Missed it by *that* much.” Falcon 1 failed three times before reaching orbit. The hilarious thing is, Starship is only slightly more expensive than Falcon 1!

    1. And I remember one of those failures (was it the 3rd?) involved the first stage collision with second stage after separation. Don’t need a repeat of that one.

      1. The first stage “burped” and pushed the interstage back up on the second stage engine, which then started… The solution was a longer coast phase. Stopping the first stage engine, waiting a bit, firing the pusher, waiting another bit, then firing the second stage. Next flight put Ratsat in orbit, the one after that put the payload from Malasia up, and that was the end. As far as I know, there are two more Falcon 1s (maybe a 1e?) laying around somewhere.

  9. After reading Berger’s article on the launch, with its weak defense of Musk (followed by the usual commenter hate), I have to say if Ars were a human being, it’d be in a padded cell. I think anyone who thinks he’s a fraud, a villain, or a lunatic is siding with Marxism whether they realize it or not, sort of like the Stoic apologists for Christianity in the later Principate and end stage Tetrarchy. After the rise of the Christian Dominate post Constantine, Greco-Roman civilization was progressively destroyed. Now substitute Marxism and useful idiots, and today’s world under successful siege. (How’s that for a conspiracy theory? /s)

    Seriously, Aspie Musk is doing his level best to save humanity from itself, sometimes incompetently, sometimes misguidedly, but trying. Is anyone else trying? Not that I can see.

    1. There’s some dispute about whether the tumbling begins before or after the FTS firing. What’s clear is, the upper half of Starship came off whole and is tumbling and outgassing. We’ll eventually find out.

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