1. StevoR says

    Holding at 40 seconds. Not quite sure what’s up or going tohappen next. Hopefully a launch..

  2. says

    It lifted off successfully. Then it exploded 4 minutes later. The SpaceX engineers cheered! They meant to do that, they said.

  3. StevoR says

    Well, that was short but sweet. Failure to separate from first stage and blown up but it did lift off and fly. 3 or so spectacular minutes and a lot of happy people even with that ending. (I’m one of them.)

  4. says

    They had minimal goals — if it just cleared the tower, it was a success! We’ll just ignore the fact that some of the primary engines failed to ignite, that it started flipping end over end at altitude, and that the first stage failed to separate. Victory!

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Takeoff OK
    Stage separation failed at T= 3 minutes.
    Rocket remotely detonated at four munutes.
    However, it was the performance of the first stage that was the test priority.
    Performance during this phase was apparently satisfactory.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    Correction for @ 9:

    The phrase for when a space vehicle explodes like that should be “Lock the doors.” Sorry.

  7. StevoR says

    They flew. They learnt stuff. They’ll do better next time and the time after that and keep going.

    That’s how Humanity progresses.

    Also that was beautiful, magnificent, even if it didn’t last as long as ideally hoped. Next time. Or time after.

    They will get there.

    Remember the whole landing the boosters back on boats thing? Or, indeed, the whole history of SpaceX launches and failures leading to eventual successes.

  8. robro says

    PZ @ 12 — So their goal was to get it off the ground…but not very far? The Moon is a long ways away.

  9. robro says

    In my world of software development they refer to this sort of goal as an “MVP”…”Minimal Viable Product”…emphasis on “minimal”.

  10. wzrd1 says

    The stages aren’t supposed to separate. If they did, they’d not give as impressive a fireworks display when the range safety charge is fired.
    What I love is the audience. Someone wiped their nose, they cheered, someone farted, they cheered, launch hold, they cheered, safety charge detonated, they cheered.
    Reminds me of the holographic audience in STTNG’s The Outrageous Okona, where whatever Data said or did made the audience laugh. Just another troop of chumpanzees hooting.

    Total success, we’ll ignore the chunks falling off late in boost. Reminds me of a car I had when I was young, left a trail of parts whenever I hit a bump, but it was a good car if you ignored the burning oil, misfires, parts falling off, lack of floorboards, rust held together by dirt, dodgy starter and five bald tires (yeah, the spare was bald too).

  11. charley says

    @22 robro
    The NYT claims that’s SpaceX’s philosophy, to rapidly iterate and fail a lot with lean designs rather than methodically anticipating every possible failure and over designing. Maybe, but also a pretty convenient excuse for screw ups.

  12. wzrd1 says

    @25, so SpaceX shares a common philosophy with Acme, the main supplier of Wile E Coyote. And I’d want to buy stock in them why?
    That’s simply rocketry by Schmendrick.

  13. StevoR says

    As someone noted on the NASA Spaceflight youtube commentary, the Starship spun around quite a few times without breaking up before they activated the self-destruct which is really pretty impressive when you think about the forces involved and the size of that thing.

  14. ockhamsshavingbrush says

    I’m torn apart here….one the one hand I like things go Kablouieee, on the other hand it was way too long into it’s flight to actually see the fireworks, so I’ll give it a “MEH”. But I mean, the NASA had it’s fair share of Kablouieees too, so fair enough. John Glenn’s launch was acutally the first succesfull manned US “spaceflight” after a series of CATOs.

    @wizrd1 @23
    So you’re the poor schmuck I sold my old beater to. Interesting.

  15. charley says

    @27 wzrd1
    Wile E Coyote and Schmendrick didn’t learn from their mistakes though. My issue is that it may be an efficient way to develop a lean design, but so what? Lean is good for a phone app, but I want my spaceship to be over designed, including features to safeguard against problems that haven’t happened yet

  16. birgerjohansson says

    The first American to orbit Earth was a chimpanzee.

    There were several successful sub-orbital manned missions (using the small Redstone rocket) before NASA had the confidence to launch a human into orbit.
    Both Atlas and the (Gemini launcher) Titan II had a protracted development before the conversion fron ICBM to launch vehicle was successful.
    The hapless Soviet N-1 was killed by the politburo because they lacked the patience to let it mature after several launch failures.

  17. robro says

    charley @ #25 — Yep MVP is part of the “Agile” development style. Google and FaceBook are kind of noted for this approach for consumer products which is one reason things sometimes really suck.

    Speaking of rockets blowing up, Mike Lindell has to pay a computer forensics expert $5 million dollars because the fellow proved Lindell’s claim of Chinese interference in the 2020 election were false. In fact, Robert Zeidman “examined Lindell’s data and concluded that it not only did not prove voter fraud, it had no connection to the 2020 election.” Zeidman is 63-year-old and a Trump voter.

  18. birgerjohansson says

    Charley @ 30
    To give the booster its due, it kept climbing after 3-4 engines had failed.
    And the structure kept together despite the aerodynamic loads and g forces of making somersaults.

    Fixing the rocket engine issue and the stage separation issue (plus other issues that may only have showed up in the telemetry) seems within the scope of the engineers of the company, considering their success with the smaller launcher.

  19. says

    Twice the power of the Saturn-V!!! Holy crap!!
    The rearview right before things made a pearshaped cloud had me muttering “now that is a lotta engines!”

  20. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 25

    Given the design of the rocket, complete with 1950s-Cadilliac tailfins, I wondered if Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear.

  21. euclide says

    @25 there is the big difference with public and private project.s

    As a private entity, SpaceX can iterate and improve after each “failure”. That’s a standard engineering practice.
    It worked quite well for the Falcon 9, and the Spaceship program is well underway with the same method.

    If NASA did the same thing, their budget would be reduce after each iteration because politicians would point out that these failures prove that big government is inept as doing anything.

  22. wzrd1 says

    robro @33, the panel found that no proof of China was needed, only what was needed was to prove that the data had nothing to do with the election and specifically, election fraud.
    ‘ “The Contest did not require participants to disprove election interference. Thus, the contestants’ task was to prove the data presented to them was not valid data from the November 2020 election,” the arbitration panel wrote.

    “The Panel was not asked to decide whether China interfered in the 2020 election. Nor was the Panel asked to decide whether Lindell LLC possessed data that proved such interference, or even whether Lindell LLC had election data in its possession,” according to the arbitration panel. “The focus of the decision is on the 11 files provided to Mr. Zeidman in the context of the Contest rules.” ‘

    A much lower bar that Lindell managed to try to limbo away from under, only to fall.
    ‘ During his deposition, Lindell said he was never concerned someone might actually win the challenge.

    “No, because they have to show it wasn’t from 2020 and it was,” Lindell said, chuckling. ‘
    Wow, talk about falling flat!
    Downside is, it’s uncertain if Zeidman will collect, as Lindell took out $10 million in loans to cover other defamation litigation. Maybe they’ll order liquidation of his assets to cover this award?

    ockhamsshavingbrush @29, yeah, great price, ran it till the pistons fell out. ;)
    Great first car. My second car was a ’69 Nova, which died an ignominious death by being rear-ended by a plumber’s panel truck, barely missing crimping in the gas filler cap under the license tag (remember those?).

    It’s also kind of nice when all of the engines keep working, otherwise why drag the additional mass into orbit or even close to orbital velocities? Still, as observed in other comments, it was impressive that the stack stayed assembled without major failure as it cartwheeled, most stacks have catastrophic failure internally, spewing fuel and boom particles all about the landscape far below.
    Rocket hail is murder on laundry on the line, not really roof friendly either.

    SpaceX is like Edison’s workshop. Hundreds of engineers toiling and failing in an assembly line of attempts, with rare successes being trumpeted as to exhibits of his genius. I call it an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters.

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls @38, there was the plume, but before, there were some solid chunks that decidedly were not ice falling off. That suggested some internal failures and possible vibration damage, which can also result in engine shutdowns. Apollo had vibration related shutdowns, pogo oscillation shutdowns and more, but didn’t use the minus moron method of keep on trying launches and fix one problem in sequence, but went whole hog and fixed everything found at a go, rinsed and repeated to far less serial failures.
    Still, I remember NACA’s Redstone attempted launch, where one cable was too short, it unplugged early and out of sequence, a many steps missing launch sequencer then eventually fired the escape tower, then parachute while it sat impotently on the pad – still fueled and how a hazard to all around until the fuel and oxygen boiled off. Few launch failures were as humorous as that one.

    Fine folks, I present for you the 4 inch flight:

  23. wzrd1 says

    OT: Bed bath and Beyond screwed their workers out of both severance pay that was promised and their 2022 401k match payments, which won’t be paid. I’m sure that the CEO and VP will still get their bonuses though.

    6 year old and her father shot by neighbor, as their thermonuclear warhead tipped basketball rolled unto his property. Castle doctrine at its best, as he opened fire when the kids so evilly tried to retrieve their errant thermonuclear ball.
    Well, minus the thermonuclear part.
    The shooter has bravely stood his ground by going on the run, now considered black and, erm I mean armed and dangerous. So, we know he’ll get shot on sight.
    Knowing cops these days and the military surplus hardware they get, I’d not be surprised if they shoot at him with a Davy Crockett nuclear missile.

    In other news, the House, in a fine example of displaying an understanding of what is of critical national importance at the current time has voted on a bill.
    The House voted on Thursday to pass a GOP-led bill that would ban transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports at federally funded schools and educational institutions.
    Which is of far greater impact and importance than mere shooting of school kids.
    Maybe it’s time for the taxpayer nuclear option. Drop all deductions, escrow account all tax payments until campaign finance reform is in place and real problems are being addressed. If just 5% of the populace pulled that, the financial impact would be devastating.

  24. says

    I feel compelled to make what I think is an important comment. I applaud the space-X and tesla engineers and workers. BUT, Elongated Muskmelon IS NOT TO BE CONGRATULATED! He is like too many other ‘titans of industry’ (rocket pun intended), he is just a blowhard, sociopath money man.

  25. R. L. Foster says

    There’s an old engineering adage that applies here: Complexity means fuck-ups.

  26. kenbakermn says

    How many Saturn V rockets exploded before we got one to the moon? None, as far as I know. And that was with the technology of 60 years ago. Why is SpaceX having such a different experience? My conjecture is that NASA was run by engineers and scientists while SpaceX is run by, well, Elon Musk.

  27. wzrd1 says

    R. L. Foster @45, the corollary is: Way too many moving parts, it’ll never work.

    kenbakermn @46, Antares rocket, NASA Wallops Island launch complex, 2014. Destroyed its pad. Every other rocket did explode for NACA and NASA, the exception being the Saturn stack, which had incessant problems on the ground.
    Which is the absolute best place to have problems with a rocket, while ground testing. Though, they were still plagued for the longest with pogo oscillation in the Saturn V. Some things can’t be tested on the ground, but only on a realistic load and of course, is toward the final stages of testing.

  28. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    I excerpted an article detailing SpaceX and FAA’s reckless disregard for surrounding environment and property.

    Comment Infinite Thread XXVII #385 – “SpaceX’s Texas Rocket is Going To Cause A Lot More Damage Than Anyone Thinks”
    And a disgusted astronomer fighting for satellite regulation.
    Comment: Infinite Thread XXVII #331

  29. says

    kenbakermn: Yeah, SpaceX’s rocket wasn’t trying to do anything those Saturn rockets hadn’t already been doing. So it kinda looks like a step backward for SpaceX.

  30. Deepak Shetty says

    @robro @22

    they refer to this sort of goal as an “MVP”…”Minimal Viable Product”…emphasis on “minimal”.

    Well only idiot software developers/managers (i.e. most of us) ignore the viable part of MVP.

  31. rietpluim says

    Seriously, what is all the fuzz? People have been launching rockets for decades. They even shot some men to the moon and a probe to outside the solar system. Why is it newsworthy if some billionaire egomaniac is funding it?

  32. says

    The operational record of the Saturn V is 13 launches, 13 cargos deployed safely to orbit, 10 of them manned. Admittedly, some of the launches weren’t smooth – Apollo 12 getting struck by lightning (twice!), engine failures on Apollo 6 and 13 – but after acceptance testing of individual components they never lost a single production model.

  33. Alan G. Humphrey says

    I’m sure El Onmusk will say, “The somersaults were planned to test the structural integrity, as one will be required as part of the landing maneuver.”

  34. StevoR says

    @51. rietpluim : Because it is the largest and most impressive one ever launched and may end up taking people back to the Moon and Mars.

  35. John Morales says

    StevoR, “”Starship just experienced what we call a rapid unscheduled disassembly, or a RUD, during ascent,” said SpaceX engineer John Insprucker”.

    Most impressive, indeed.

  36. ajbjasus says

    How much shit crap and pollution does blowing up gigantic rockets in the atmosphere cause?

  37. StevoR says

    @ ^ larpar : It will make it into space. It didn’t this time but it will. Given their record I am confident of that.

    It is also just intrinsically impressive interms of its sheer size and ambition – at least in terms of rockets actually built as opposed to just imagined.

    Incidentally, good analysis here on what happened to Starship last night / yesterday during its first launch in a dozen minutes long youtube clip.

    @52 & 56. John Morales : Actually as “Terran Space Academy” observes in that last linked video (6 min 59 secs) it proved that its self-destruct system worked as designed. They deliberately blew it up when it was clearly not separating and falling out of the sky.

  38. John Morales says

    They deliberately blew it up when it was clearly not separating and falling out of the sky.


  39. rietpluim says

    @StevoR #55 – I doubt it. Have you seen a ‘largest rocket ever launched’ news article before? The size is just an excuse. Everything Musk does is given a lot of attention. The media want to make stupid people famous.

  40. StevoR says

    @ ^ rietpluim : This time teh news is accurate as you’;d know if you watched the linked video or saw the size comaprison with among others the SpaceShuttle & Saturn V here via the BBC :

    @63. larpar : Yes – and then managing toland them making resueable rockets a practical thing. Plus more.

  41. Kagehi says

    Just watched a vid from Cinema Therapy about Captain Jack Sparrow – In a nutshell, for the first few movies he was someone with a severe case of… I don’t remember what they called it. But, in a nutshell, his sole focus was always on, “Ah… And what do I get out of it?” Mix that with a heavy dose of Narcissism, in which his success makes him think (and this sadly seems to be emblematic of almost everyone that is ever grandly successful) that he is somehow smarter and better than everyone else, and you get Elon Musk. A man who is very good at convincing people that don’t know him that he is brilliant, has no clue what he is actually doing, and will probably, if he ever somehow goes missing, or dies, get the same answer to, “Did anyone miss me?”, from his crew as Sparrow did – dead silence.

  42. rietpluim says

    @StevoR #65 – I think we have a misunderstanding. I’ve read that the rocket is the largest ever, but I doubt it is the real reason why there is so much news coverage. There have been largest rockets before and they were never considered so newsworthy.

  43. wzrd1 says

    ajbjasus @60, go to your gas stove, turn it on and tell us.
    The fuel was methane, oxidizer was liquid O2. The explosives were a kilo or so of nitrate based explosives, so that reduces to the same mass of mixed CO2, H20, various nitrogen compounds that are fairly stable.

    I’m still impressed that the entire stack stayed integral when it began not only to yaw, but cartwheel. Gotta give those engineers some credit there!

  44. StevoR says

    @67. rietpluim : ” There have been largest rockets before and they were never considered so newsworthy.

    They weren’t? I’m pretty sure there was a lot of coverage of the Artemis launch last year* and I recall the Space Shuttle flight as a huge deal as a kid as it was the first rocket / spacecraft launch I ever saw – or, actually, didn’t because it was scrubbed due to a computer glitch but I remember being (metaphorically!) glued to the TV screen watching that first planned Columbia lift-off. Too young for it personally but I’m sure the first flight of the Saturn V and other huge rockets got plenty of news headlines and attention too.

    .* Google search results here :

  45. StevoR says

    @60 ajbjasus : “How much shit crap and pollution does blowing up gigantic rockets in the atmosphere cause?”

    Well, when it comes to pollution :

    … prior to Starship’s first launch, SpaceX received a 183-page environmental safety notice(opens in new tab) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outlining over 75 mitigative steps(opens in new tab) the company needed to take to ensure Starship’s launch license be granted.


    According to a City of Port Isabel Facebook post(opens in new tab), it has been confirmed that the spray of Starship detritus that covered locals’ cars and homes posed no health risk, and was in fact sand and dust lofted airborne and thrown miles in every direction by the rocket’s liftoff.

    Source :

    See also :

    Space launches can have a hefty carbon footprint due to the burning of solid rocket fuels. Many rockets are, however, propelled by liquid hydrogen fuel, which produces ‘clean’ water vapour exhaust, although the production of hydrogen itself can cause significant carbon emissions. Rocket engines release trace gases into the upper atmosphere that contribute to ozone depletion, as well as particles of soot. Rocket launches are nonetheless relatively infrequent, meaning that their overall impact on our climate remains much smaller than aviation’s.

    Source :

    Plus :

    Elon Musk’s SpaceX has received environment clearance from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for developing and testing its giant Starship rocket launch vehicle in Texas.

    The review, known as a programmatic environmental assessment (PEA), which gauged the environmental impacts of SpaceX’s Starbase site, concluded that the company’s plans would not result in significant impacts to the environment.

    The FAA’s assessment of SpaceX’s Starbase launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, concluded that SpaceX’s plans would not result in significant impacts to the environment.

    Source :

    Emphasis added.

    I think – pretty sure I’ve already linked somewhere previously in a relevant thread or the Infinite one here – a Scott Manley video on the Starship launch having to consider the impact its splashing down would have on marine life and have that be minimal enough to get approved. A paper examining that shown there including the wonderfully rude-soudning term Phocid pinniped in relation to Hawaiian Monk Seals.

    So, yes, pollution from launches is considered, they do have to take environmental impacts into account and there are some but in the greater scheme of things and pt into persepctive alongside a lot of other things humans do? I don’t think its so bad. I also think you shouldn’t ignore the positive environmental impacts space exploration has in raising awareness and developing technology. Its worth noting that the environmetal movement was boosted a lot by things like seeing Earth as a blue marble and as a spaceship of its own from the Apollo and other missions and satellites launched by rockets are used for environmental monitoring and understanding etc… Science generally is worth investing in despite the ecological costs it has.

    As for “shit and crap”, the first Starship launch contained no significant macroscopic creatures aboard capable of producing visible excrement with the possible exception of the odd bit of frass from insects that may have alighted upon or found their way into the Starship.

    PS. Scott Manley’s great abanlysis of the Satrship’s first flight here – justover ten minutes long.

  46. KG says

    There’s an interesting analysis of what went wrong here. Summary: it was Musk’s fault, for overruling the engineers.

  47. StevoR says

    When it comes to the environmental impacts in fairness to those noting theer are environmental issues , I will recommend this article :

    SpaceX’s site is surrounded by state and federally protected lands. The explosion littered parts of the delicate ecosystem of the Boca Chica tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley national wildlife refuge – comprising tidal flats, beaches, grasslands and coastal dunes that host a huge range of wildlife – with rocket debris.


    .. said Bryan Bird, of the national environmental nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife. “Elon Musk is building a space complex in one of the most environmentally diverse, and inappropriate, places in the world.”

    Launch site ditches, both on SpaceX land and public property, have dumped runoff water directly into the tidal flats, said Newstead, where he and his fieldworkers track nesting sites for snowy plovers, a wading bird that is close to landing on the federal threatened species list.

    Plus :

    There used to be about a dozen nests dotting the tidal flats on the edge of Boca Chica where the refuge abuts SpaceX’s property each spring, but last year the organization found just two pairs of the snowy plovers nesting, he said. This year they only spotted one. Newstead has also scaled back the nonprofit’s annual migratory bird census and multiple other programs, because, he says, they can’t access the refuge often enough to properly conduct the survey.

    That puts a good case against at least the location of SpaceX’s Starbase in the vulnerable coastal Boca Chica area. Rather ironic I think that it means “small mouth” en espanol given the bluster and boldness of Musk’s ,i>(at least metaphorical) mouth!

    I do wish SpaceX had located their Starbase and launch facilities somewhere much more ecologically suitable and less vulnerable.

  48. KG says

    I see Scott Manley points out the same issues, with the lack of a flame diverter and water suppression system, as Mark Sumner – although it’s pointed out in the comments to Sumner’s article that what would potentially land on and take off from the moon or Mars is just the upper stage, so any argument that you have to do without launch pad components you couldn’t have there is moot. Sumner suggests that there will be at least a year’s delay before the next flight, making a moon landing in 2025 very unlikely.

    On the environmental issues, worth noting that the whole point of the SpaceX approach is to make access to orbit (and beyond) much cheaper – but that in itself will multiply the environmental impact, although of course it could also have environmental (as well as purely scientific) benefits. Internationally agreed regulations are clearly needed, but just as clearly, not very likely in the current situation.