Starship launch likely today in the next 1.5 hours. Watch NOW!

April 20, 2023 • 8:09 am

I’m posting this quickly, as you don’t want to miss it. Elon Musk’s Starship, designed to be the vehicle to take people to live on Mars or the Moon, is scheduled to launch this morning after the first launch was scrubbed a few days ago.

The one-hour launch window is between 9:28 and 10:28 a.m. Eastern, or 8:28 and 9:28 a.m. Chicago time, and 2:28 to 3:28 pm London time. That means the window starts about 20 minutes after this post goes up. The vehicle will circle most of the globe and is slated to come down

To see it, click on the screenshot below to go to the SpaceX site, and then click the “watch” box, which I’ve circled in red. You’ll be sent to another screen and then you’ll have to hit “watch” AGAIN. Who can fathom Elon Musk.

From the NYT:

What is Starship?

It is the tallest rocket ever built — 394 feet tall, or nearly 90 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty with the pedestal.

And it has the most engines ever in a rocket booster: The Super Heavy, the lower section that will propel the Starship vehicle to orbit, has 33 of SpaceX’s powerful Raptor engines sticking out of its bottom. They are able to generate 16 million pounds of thrust at full throttle, far more than the Saturn V that carried the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

Starship is designed to be entirely reusable. The Super Heavy booster is expected to land much like SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 9 rockets, and Starship will be able to return from space belly-flopping through the atmosphere like a sky diver before pivoting to a vertical position for landing.

Why is SpaceX building Starship?

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is the most frequently launched rocket in the world. Starship is the next step. It would be able to carry far more cargo and many more people than Falcon 9. And because it is fully reusable, Starship could greatly reduce the cost of launching payloads to orbit.

NASA is paying SpaceX to build a version of the vehicle to carry astronauts from lunar orbit to the moon’s surface for the Artemis III and IV missions later in the decade. The spacecraft is also central to Mr. Musk’s vision of sending people to Mars.

What will happen during the flight?

For the test flight on Thursday, Starship will fly almost completely around the Earth, starting from Texas and splashing down in waters off Hawaii.

About eight minutes after the launch on Thursday, the Super Heavy booster will splash into the Gulf of Mexico. The Starship vehicle will fly higher into space, reaching an altitude of about 150 miles and traveling around the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere. If it survives re-entry, about 90 minutes after launching, it will splash into the Pacific Ocean some 62 miles north of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

But with all the new systems in Starship, the SpaceX founder acknowledged the difficulties of achieving all of the flight’s goals.

“There’s a million ways this rocket could fail,” Mr. Musk said. “I could go on for hours.”

h/t: Jim Batterson

52 thoughts on “Starship launch likely today in the next 1.5 hours. Watch NOW!

  1. Part of me just wants to be in space the rest of my life like in those sci-fi movies – e.g. Silent Running (anyone?) – just doing anything. Mowing the lawn. I could do that.

    1. Silent Running is one of my favorite movies. A powerful story, imaginative use of sets and special effects, great soundtrack by Peter Schickele (including two songs sung by Joan Baez), and of course the adorable little robots.

      1. If you recall, frequent commenter Paul Topping mentioned the movie once so I went and got it after not having seen it for a long time. I’m hoping Paul’s ok, haven’t heard him chime in for a while.

        1. Yes. Have not heard from him in a long while it seems. He was long faithful commenter. Also hope he is ok.

      2. That was a pretty good sci fi tale with one MAJOR flaw that I just could never shake. A botanist and skilled scientist is mystified why his plants are dying, then finally realizes it’s because he’s moving too far from the sun. Duh!

        And yeah, I’ve wondered about Paul as well and hope he’s ok.

    1. At least 4, looked like to me. One of the good things about having so many engines is redundancy. Even with 4 engines out it was able to launch and get to stage separation altitude. I wonder though if it was even close to the intended flight profile.

      1. Many years ago, I think it was an early C-5 test flight demo dog and pony show for the press, congressmen, other vip’s, that a wheel came off the giant aircraft on landing and rolled away down the runway. One of the local Georgia congressmen remarked that the press would mark that as a failure and bad mouth the government, manufacturer, and air force, but he wanted people to know that is why the plane was designed with 28 wheels…so it could lose one or two and still land safely! gotta love ‘em.

        1. 🙂 Good story.

          I didn’t witness it personally, but I recall a C-5 mishap at Ramstein AFB when I was in Germany in the mid ’70s. During its take-off run one of the engines dropped off the wing. The story was that the engine beat the plane down the runway.

  2. I admit that the disgust I have developed for everything associated with Elon Musk may be unhealthy, but the sooner SpaceX goes bust, the better.

      1. You mean, the achievements of the people he hired? He’s not an engineer, he only plays one on the internet.

        1. I mean the accomplishments of organizations he has actively led…getting a big bunch of engineers, scientists, and yes, even the bean counters to pull together to accomplish results to go against the existing grain for an extended time period with delayed gratification is incredibly difficult.

        1. His company has a good, reliable, cheap rocket – fine, good job. They mainly use it to clog up low earth orbit with a fleet of Starlink satellites, which I think sets a bad precent. And his company is working on a bigger rocket – supposedly to colonize Mars, which is bullshit on so many levels I don’t even know where to start, but in the short term, to clog up LEO with even more Starlink satellites.
          So, they’re doing good work to achieve questionable ends. Admirable? Not in my book.

    1. I understand all that. But in the process a lot of talented employees will be set adrift and an important wing of our space program will break down. The wish is not without a lot of collateral damage.

      1. As I just wrote in another comment: I think Starlink is a net negative (with the potential of triggering Kessler syndrome and making launching other satellites impossible for years), and I think the Mars plans are a net negative (an expensive inevitable failure if they are actually attempted, and a disappointing nothingburger if they aren’t).

        1. I think you are right on both those points, but I just want SpaceX to quit doing Starlink and Musk to shut up about Mars. The other stuff SpaceX is doing is fine, as far as I’m concerned.

    2. Yes, it is unhealthy, and if SpaceX goes bust, that’s very bad for the U.S. space program. I would suggest you not conflate the man’s character with his achievements. Jefferson had slaves; would you have been happy to see the nascent United States go bust?

    3. I profoundly disagree. A failure of SpaceX right now would be extremely bad not just for the commercial impact but also for the US’s and allies’ military and intelligence capability. Here is a tweet by Eric Berger, who is a very knowledgeable reporter on space issues:

      The text with my comments in [brackets]:

      Eric Berger@SciGuySpace

      Here is the state of medium-lift in the free world:

      Atlas V: Sold out [and retiring]

      Delta IV: Two left [and retiring]

      Vulcan: No spare capacity for awhile [and hasn’t flown yet, had a recent explosion in test]

      Ariane 5: One left [retiring]

      Ariane 6: Not ready soon [May start flying next year]

      LVM-3: Slowly scaling up [new Indian rocket]

      H3: Failure on debut flight [Japanese rocket]

      Falcon 9: Near unlimited capacity due to reuse


      That’s it, except for small payloads, the SpaceX Falcon 9 is really the only option for now outside of China and Russia. And SpaceX has an extraordinarily launch record, flying regularly and often. The EU just said they will probably need to turn to SpaceX because of Araine 6 delays. This is very embarrassing for them, Araine 6 was supposed to be their answer to the Falcon 9, but probably a necessity.

      Then there is the fully reusable Starship. If it is successful, it will radically change the economics of space launch. A space station similar to the one in 2001: A Space Odyssey becomes a serious possibility, even probable, as do moon colonies and crewed interplanetary missions. Space tourism becomes real, not just for the ultra-rich. I want to see that future.

      1. So you’re saying that we’re in the process of handing a monopoly on strategic military and economic capabilities over to a Bond villain… and it would be terrible if something interfered with that?

        Also, I am still not sure that Starship would *actually* be cheap, and not just cheap in an Elon Musk “oh sure, the hyperloop will cost less than a high-speed rail connection, and we’ll fly people to Mars for 200,000$!” way. We’ve had reusable LEO spacecraft, and once you figure in maintenance, fuel and all the other inevitable expenses, it was still fairly expensive.

  3. I’m trying to figure out what went wrong. It looked like it had gotten to the point where it was doing a mid-flight turn (the commenter said so), but it couldn’t come out of the turn so it was either tumbling or cork-screwing. With that going on, the rocket could not separate the stages and it eventually tore apart.

    1. Well, let’s just wait for the data sense speculating. I am sure that they had virtually every sensor that they could think of on board for this flight and plenty of telemetry

    2. I’m going to make a speculative guess. The turn put unexpected stress on the joint between the two stages and jammed the separation mechanism.

      You should know that I have zero experience of rocket engineering beyond making an Airfix Saturn V.

    3. One thing for sure – a number of engines weren’t lit during at least part of ascent. There was a dramatic red plume at one point and I’ve seen speculation that an engine might have come apart then.

      The rocket was supposed to rotate as part of the stage separation procedure, but it went far beyond what it was supposed to do. I don’t know what caused the engine issues but I expect the engine problems were a primary cause of it going out of control.

  4. “a rapid unscheduled disassembly”
    Well a nice turn of phrase anyhow. And it was going so well, until it wasn’t. Try, fail, try again. I wish them well identifying the problem

  5. All News about starships reminds me of an old joke from the eastern gates of Europe. After the 1961 spaceflight by the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, a Ukrainian shepherd on a hill shouts to a friend on the next hill: “Have you heard? The Moskvychi are going into space!” His friend shouts back: “All of them, Слава Богу?”

  6. Thank goodness a nature reserve and public beach have been ruined by a billionaire, how else are we going to watch rockets explode?

  7. What prompts such rage over Elon Musk? He can be an immature troll, but that would also capture many Leftists on Twitter. Is this just the “normal” rage directed at anyone who mocks the excesses of the Social Justice Left? Who garners praise from anyone on the hated Right? Or is the hate from that segment of the Left that hates all billionaires, any billionaires, for being billionaires? (Surely it isn’t because he seems incapable of maintaining stable marriages and he leaves children behind in his wake at the same rate as he launches rockets; that would be so moralizing.) So, what is it?

    Can someone who dislikes Musk but doesn’t seethe spittle at mention of his name help me understand the rage? It is a curious social phenomenon.

    1. My guess is that he’s perceived as an asshole: to women, to his employees, to old people like Bernie “I keep forgetting you’re still alive” Sanders. And I think a lot of hate for billionaires comes from jealousy, but also the fact that most pay very little in taxes (or at least that’s the perception). Anyway, I dislike him because he’s, as you put it, an immature troll, but I don’t hate the guy…maybe try googling “Why do people hate Elon Musk?” Maybe there’s an over-arching reason…I don’t follow him as he doesn’t interest me.

    2. For the record, I’m fairly ambivalent. I greatly appreciate what he has done with SpaceX, but profoundly disagree with some of the things he has said. My guess is that there is a sense of betrayal involved with the extreme haters. Musk looked like he was doing his part to help the world with electric cars, battery storage and solar electricity, then was aiming for the future with revolutionary rocket development and for a long while didn’t make many controversial political statements. He was often portrayed in the news as a sort of heroic figure.

      Now he has said a number of controversial things and has made himself look quite selfish, and I think people who had a different image of him feel betrayed. He’s not a hero, but an imperfect human. Also, the tone of news stories has changed dramatically.

    3. To put it bluntly: Musk is the Donald Trump of the tech industry. A raging narcissist who lies incessantly and leaves out no opportunity to belittle others and to hype up his businesses and his own genius. He disdains all rules except for those he made up himself on the spot, and has a long history of legal trouble. He does not seem to have actual understanding of the things he purports to invent.
      Is that enough for starters?

      1. The Elon Musks of this world are the product of the Reagonomics neocon capitalist extremist ideology. Musk isn’t responsible for the regulators who allow private profit oriented oligarch enterprises to clutter up LEO, he isn’t responsible for the ideological dogma that says that public/state controlled R and D are inefficient because of lack of profit incentives, he isn’t responsible for the regressive taxation reforms and the banking deregulation and the laissez faire attitude to near-monopolies that allow enormous capital concentrations to accumulate.
        Ironically, for quite a long time, the US had to rely on old Soviet technology to carry US astronauts to the ISS.

    4. He’s a con man.

      He cheated the Tesla founders out of their company.

      He keeps coming up with bullshit transport schemes to sell more Teslas.

      He pretends to be trying to save the World, but the reality is he just wants to sell more Teslas.

      He swindled Tesla shareholders in order to bale his relatives out when their solar power company was insolvent.

      He lies to his employees to make them work on their holidays.

      He treats his partners badly. He treats his children badly. He solicits sex acts from his employees.

      That’s all before we start on Twitter.

      I actually don’t have anything against billionaires as a class, but Elon Musk personally is a real peace of work and it does annoy me that so many people think he’s Jesus.

Leave a Reply