As it happenedended1700322903

SpaceX Starship launch: World’s biggest rocket loses contact after reaching space

Anthony Cuthbertson,Andrew Griffin
Saturday 18 November 2023 15:55 GMT

After months of delays, SpaceX finally launched its massive Starship rocket as part of a major flight test of the Mars-bound craft – before losing it around 10 minutes after lift off.

Saturday’s attempt comes seven months after the first effort to launch a fully stacked Starship – which is both the tallest and most powerful rocket ever built – ended in a catastrophic explosion, just minutes after lift off.

SpaceX boss Elon Musk says Starship holds the key to making humanity a multi-planetary species, with plans to build hundreds of the spacecraft in order to set up a permanent human colony on Mars.

But first Starship had to conduct an uncrewed orbital test, which saw it leave from its launchpad at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Texas, before both stages of the rocket were lost.

A 20 minute launch window opened at 7am CT (1pm GMT), with the flight scheduled to last around 90 minutes, though ending within 10. You can find all the latest updates and watch a live stream below.


Starship launch live: Stream of historic attempt begins

The live stream of today’s Starship launch attempt is here, you can watch it below.

Anthony Cuthbertson18 November 2023 12:30

Hello and welcome...

... to The Independent’s live coverage of the (attempted) launch of Starship.

Andrew Griffin16 November 2023 18:59

SpaceX tweet shows Starship standing on its pad

SpaceX has tweeted an image of Starship standing ready for its launch.

But the post isn’t only a set of nice images. It’s also a reminder of what SpaceX is hoping to happen: “the stress on the question of “how much we learn” and “rapid iterative development” is a hint that the spacecraft might not have a safe journey this time around, either, but that SpaceX hopes to gain useful information either way.

Andrew Griffin16 November 2023 19:01

Fears launch might be delayed

Those watching the latest at the launchpad are seeing developments that might suggest SpaceX has found an issue that could cause it to “destack” (that is, take apart) Starship.

SpaceX hasn’t yet said anything about a possible delay to the launch. But the company’s livestream did briefly switch from 17 November to 18 November, which might be an indication it is being delayed.

The only confirmation however will come from SpaceX, and there is no indication when that might be.

The first launch of Starship did not go ahead on its first day. That had been scheduled for 17 April but it was pulled with about eight minutes to go because of a frozen valve; SpaceX scrubbed that launch and held it on 20 April, when it did actually take off.

Andrew Griffin16 November 2023 19:05

Starship being taken apart

Starship is being destacked, which is to say taken back apart after it was put together, according to this image from Chris Bergin at Nasa Space Flight.

That doesn’t mean it won’t launch tomorrow, and SpaceX are yet to give any kind of update. But it almost certainly wasn’t part of the plan.

Andrew Griffin16 November 2023 19:10

Elon Musk tweets about free speech as public waits for news on Starship launch

As the world awaits for news out of SpaceX (see below), Elon Musk has posted. But it’s not about Starship – rather it’s about free speech and X:

His previous post was a retweet of the SpaceX post below, about Starship being stacked, so he knows people are interested. And he is well known to keep a very close eye on Starship.

Andrew Griffin16 November 2023 19:23

Launch postponed

Elon Musk has announced that the launch is postponed until Saturday, as suspected.

No information yet about timings, though the SpaceX livestream is showing the same time: 7am local central time.

Andrew Griffin16 November 2023 19:59

What time will Starship launch?

SpaceX says the launch window for the rearranged Starship launch will open at the same time it had planned for today: 7am local central time, which is 1pm UK time.

A live video will start about 35 minutes before, SpaceX says on its launch page.

Andrew Griffin17 November 2023 08:43

Starship is back and stacked

After being taken apart to make the required fixes to launch tomorrow, Starship has once again been stacked, and is standing tall* on its launchpad.

*Taller than any other rocket, for that matter.

Andrew Griffin17 November 2023 16:41

Starship launch live: SpaceX shares photo of rocket ahead of countdown

The 20 minute launch window for today’s attempt is set to open in less than three hours. We’ll have a live stream on this page in around two hours, as well as all the latest weather reports and updates concerning this historic effort.

Starship and its Super Heavy booster are already stacked and ready to go at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Texas, with the private space company sharing an image of the giant rocket system on X. It’s still the middle of the night at Starbase, but a giant spotlight is illuminating the scene as the final preparations get underway.

Anthony Cuthbertson18 November 2023 10:17

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