SpaceX Starship launch: Live updates

SpaceX Starship launch: Live updates

9:41 a.m. ET, November 18, 2023

A SpaceX rocket exploded. It was a failure – but it was also a success

From CNN’s Jackie Wattles

SpaceX’s Starship vehicle launches on a test flight from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on Saturday, November 18.

(Eric Jay/AP)

SpaceX did not complete the entire mission, and the Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy booster exploded over the ocean.

But there were some highlights for SpaceX.

The rocket has made it much farther along its flight path than its first flight attempt in April, when the spacecraft began rolling about four minutes after liftoff. The spacecraft never separated from the Super Heavy booster during this test.

This time, however, SpaceX achieved the feat: About two and a half minutes into the flight, the spacecraft fired up its engines and successfully separated using an entirely new method called “hot staging.”

This was a defining moment for SpaceX, as the hot staging was expected to be “the riskiest part of the flight,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in October.

SpaceX has already said it will consider the mission a success if Starship passes this point. and I did.

However, it didn’t go quite as planned. The super-heavy rocket began to spin out of control immediately after separation, and exploded over the Gulf of Mexico just moments later. SpaceX had hoped to restart the Super Heavy’s engines and guide it to a controlled landing.

Losing a booster is not a major setback. At first, Starship continued to move well after separating from Super Heavy.

A plume forms when a SpaceX spacecraft separates from its booster during a test flight from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on Saturday, November 18.

(Eric Jay/AP)

About 8 minutes after liftoff, cheers could be heard echoing throughout Mission Control as the spacecraft approached the end of its engine burn — putting it on a path toward Earth orbit.

But 9 minutes after launch, SpaceX explained that it had lost the video signal with the spacecraft.

About 11 and a half minutes after the start of the flight, the company confirmed that it had lost the data. This indicates that the spacecraft was not flying as planned.

Engineer John Innsbrucker, who hosted SpaceX’s live broadcast, confirmed that SpaceX had to destroy the spacecraft so that it would not veer off course.

The company already confirms that this test was successful from its point of view.

“We’ve gotten a lot of data and it’s going to help us all improve our next flight,” Kate Tice, SpaceX’s engineering manager for quality systems, said during the live stream.

In a tweet, the company said the same thing it did after the short-term test flight in April:

The company is known to embrace failures and mishaps in the early stages of rocket development. It’s built into the company’s engineering philosophy, which welcomes early risks during test flights in the name of learning and improving the car’s design faster than if it relied on ground testing.

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