When is the Starship orbital launch?

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So beyond the success of yesterday's flight, let me point out that SpaceX still have a lot of issues to resolve. Booster had one outer engine shut off immediately after startup and the other engines compensated. OK, they can lose up to 3 engines before an abort is necessary. Presumably they are still using Gen1 or is this a Gen 2 engine? They definitely need to up their game for reliability in terms of eventual re-usability.

2nd, during the descent when the engines re-fired to slow the booster, one engine again shut off, and something exploded and fragmented and debris was seen flying past the camera. Was this the outer ring engine the perhaps exploded and perhaps damaged the middle ring engine? Or did the middle ring engine explode on its own? What would happen if the booster shed this debris while attempting to land at the tower - debris could rain over the entire landing site, puncture ground fuel tanks and infrastructure and possibly damaging the launch/landing tower. Until they sort out this problem, I don't think they are ready for IFT-5 to land on the tower. They need to fly again to PROVE reliability before capturing.

While we all marvelled at the fin that managed to stay on and function long enough to the end, they will have to redesign/re-engineer the fin going forward to prevent the burn-through, perhaps in version 2 of Ship but until then they still have a lot of work to do before it can be considered reliable enough to even begin thinking about capturing. I look forward to IFT-5, 6, 7, and likely 8th flights before they begin thinking about re-using any components.

They definitely have a lot to work through. Lots more test flights and maybe a couple more years of development. I know that certain aspects of the Artemis program, like the lander and the tankers required to fuel the lander are all based on the ship and are boosted on the same booster and rely on rapid reusability. There’s a lot riding on this eventually working, and the deadlines are not that far out.
 
Nice video. Reminds me so much of the Falcon 9 efforts to eventually land on the drone ship. Incremental progress, occasional setbacks, lots of fun video.
And now they land Falcon 9s so routinely we don't even think about it any more. They've flown two more Starlink missions, one from Florida, one from California since the Starship IFT-4. One was a 21st flight on a booster. Both landed on drone ships, and were landings number 317 and 318 for Falcon boosters.

When they get Starship/Super Heavy there — wow. I expect that taming the Raptors as well as getting the heat shield fully working are the two hard parts remaining for us to start seeing those big stainless steel rockets being recovered and reused. The landing stuff they know how to do. That said, if it were me, I wouldn't attempt a Super Heavy booster "catch" until the second tower was up at Starbase....

Thanks @ThirstyBarbarian for the video link.
 
Here’s some video of the landing burn of the booster. There are definitely some non-nominal things going on — lots of extra flamey stuff coming out one side — but it’s almost better than I expected.

https://x.com/SpaceX/status/1799458854067118450
I was hoping they had some marine assets take pictures since they had a really good idea of where it touchdown. The unmanned buoy was something I hadn't thought of - I was thinking of them using one of the drone ships in place with multiple cameras aimed at it.

As per Scott Manley, there was an explosion which blew out at least one engine. The debris was seen in the broadcast video from SpaceX. Perhaps the engines were damaged during the high speed descent through the atmosphere? In any case, this Booster is not ready for prime-time capture at the tower just yet, IMHO. They have more things to fix before IFT-5 to improve reliability. If this had happened at Starbase, debris from the exploding engine would have rained all over the beach and tower area causing the FAA to have a long mishap investigation.
 
I don't remember them doing an entry burn to knock any speed off. Maybe they were trying something different, just using drag to get the speed down. So longer time at high heating gave some surprises. All good data.
 
Here’s some video of the landing burn of the booster. There are definitely some non-nominal things going on — lots of extra flamey stuff coming out one side — but it’s almost better than I expected.

https://x.com/SpaceX/status/1799458854067118450
What amazes me is that even with what appears to be either an explosion or serious fuel/oxidizer leak, they still pulled off the soft splashdown.

It reminds me of whenever the Enterprise is breaking apart and Scottie yells to Kirk, "I can't keep her together, Captain!". But they pull through anyway.

Hans.
 
I don't remember them doing an entry burn to knock any speed off. Maybe they were trying something different, just using drag to get the speed down. So longer time at high heating gave some surprises. All good data.
IIRC there was a boost back (re-entry) burn.
13 engines if I'm not mistaken.
One engine wasn't operating.
 
Boostback burn happens on ascent and I don't think that use it to adjust vertical speed at all, just horizontal to get towards the LZ.

I have noticed on the F9 boosters they seem to try to time the entry burn to happen so that at shutdown the velocity doesn't increase much. Sort of a nice changeover point from burn to drag for speed control. It is surprising how often they are within 100kph of that point. Sometimes even within a tenth of that.
 
I've seen a ground picture with two outer ring engines out. It looks like the picture was taken moments before staging shutdown of the outer ring engines.
After a few days of researching the Super Heavy booster engine shutdown sequence and hundreds of pictures, I have two theories for the two engines out picture.
1. The opposite engine being throttled down, was not as bright from the camera's view angle. Other camera angles show a dimmer exhaust.
2. The opposite engine was in the first group of engines to shut down for hot stagging. If it was throttled down, it would have a shorter valve closure response time compared to the other engines. It could have shut down milliseconds before the others.
 
So apparently they are stripping the entire heat shield off and are going to a 2-layer system? A new ablative layer under tiles (per Felix / WAI)?
 
I can imagine how an underlayer that degassed on heating could carry away heat - but I think it would be a bugger to replace.

Wouldn’t an ablative normally be on top?
 
'The term “salvage” is often misconstrued with the law of finds, which allows a finder of abandoned property to acquire title by reducing the property to personal possession.5 This misapplication of the law of finds is mistakenly applied to the concept of “salvage” in premise of Salvage 1 and also by space enthusiasts and advocates alike.'

'salvage does not warrant possession of the property to the salvor. Rather it entitles the salvor to compensation for return of the property to its owner.'

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' once a space object is launched into outer space, it continues to be registered to the country that launched it even it returns to Earth, much in the same way a federal warship continues to belong to its nation of origin. This concept applies to space objects owned by non-governmental organizations and governmental organizations alike.12 The effect of this continued ownership and jurisdiction is similar to federal warships in that the maritime concept of the law of finds and pure salvage are not applicable.13'
 
'The term “salvage” is often misconstrued with the law of finds, which allows a finder of abandoned property to acquire title by reducing the property to personal possession.5 This misapplication of the law of finds is mistakenly applied to the concept of “salvage” in premise of Salvage 1 and also by space enthusiasts and advocates alike.'

'salvage does not warrant possession of the property to the salvor. Rather it entitles the salvor to compensation for return of the property to its owner.'

View attachment 650973
I remember watching that as a kid.
 
I like the fin placement on Version 2 - it's 'meaner' somehow. Like a shark with two fins or something.

I wonder if this means ship 32 will never fly?
 
I like the fin placement on Version 2 - it's 'meaner' somehow. Like a shark with two fins or something.
But the lack of a bump in the front concerns me. This means they they either removed the hinge mechanism, in which case these fins will not move, OR, they somehow internalized it all, which might be what they should have done in the first place, but, I understand that this is NOT what the "production" Starship is going to look like, as it's going to be an ever-evolving design as they learn to make this lump of metal fly.

What's funny is if you go back to the "BFR" concepts, it was more of a Flash Gordon looking thing with three fins in the rear, and now it's transforming again, and this will still not be the "final" design. By the time even the first one launches to Mars, "Starship" will probably be at least 33% longer, and the booster will be bigger as well.

I'm still concerned about the landing legs -- which are fine for landing on a concrete pad, but there won't be that when you're going to a new planet. My guess is that they will figure that out during HLS, and start to incorporate fold-out legs. The HLS is a totally different Starship, and they are going to need, let's say at least 10 of those, for an initial trip to Mars, so they can build a few landing pads for the Starships that follow.
 
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