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Starship launch - as it happened: Lift off for world’s biggest rocket in huge test for Mars-bound craft

SpaceX has successfully launched its Starship rocket in a huge test of Elon Musk’s ambitions to send humans to Mars.

The third test flight of the world’s biggest rocket saw it lift off from a launchpad at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on Thursday morning.

Two previous attempts to fly the uncrewed rocket from Texas to Hawaii both ended in high-altitude explosions. The third launch will see a different route attempted, with a splashdown site in the Indian Ocean.

“Each of these flight tests continue to be just that: a test,” SpaceX said ahead of the Starship launch attempt. “They aren’t occurring in a lab or on a test stand, but are putting flight hardware in a flight environment to maximise learning.”

You can follow all the latest news, analysis and updates - as well as watch a live stream of the Starship launch - in our live coverage below.

Key points

  • Watch moment world’s biggest rocket lifts off

  • SpaceX ‘ready’ to begin commercial Starship missions

  • Watch live stream of today’s Starship launch

Starship launch live: Watch SpaceX live stream of test flight

12:58 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX has begun the broadcast of its live stream for today’s Starship launch attempt.

You can watch it here:

Goodbye...

16:39 , Anthony Cuthbertson

and thanks for joining us for today’s launch. It was a big success for SpaceX on its 22nd birthday. I’m off to enjoy my own birthday now - good night!

SpaceX just fired the most powerful rocket ever made into orbit

Starship launch live: SpaceX takes ‘vital steps' with successful test

15:58 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We’ve heard from Dr Daniel Brown, an astronomy expert at Nottingham Trent University. He describes the latest Starship flight test as an “amazing” success, which could redefine the space industry.

“This third test has had very much the same tension as the first two, with SpaceX pushing payload door testing and reignition of engines in space, hoping to get to descent phase. These are vital steps in using Starship for any future missions,” he says.

“It’s been reassuring to see how both booster and starship survived the separation, which is what failed last time. It’s also amazing to see that Starship has gone into descent phase, so SpaceX can collect a huge amount of data essential for landing... It is also amazing to showcase what private companies can achieve in the space market.”

The SpaceX Starship Flight 3 Rocket launches at the Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on March 14, 2024 (Getty Images)
The SpaceX Starship Flight 3 Rocket launches at the Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on March 14, 2024 (Getty Images)

Starship launch live: SpaceX ‘ready to begin payload delivery missions'

15:28 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We’ve heard from Chad Anderson, a managing partner of SpaceX investor Space Capital, who tells us why he believes SpaceX is now ready to begin commercial operations with Starship.

“This is a hugely successful test flight for SpaceX,” he tells The Independent.

“Starship achieved nearly all of its goals on what was an extremely ambitious test flight. An important objective with this test was for Starship to achieve orbital velocity. Another key test was to successfully open the payload doors. Those two factors were needed in order for SpaceX to move ahead with its plans to launch the first Starlink satellites using Starship.

“At this point, I think SpaceX has demonstrated that Starship is now ready to begin its payload delivery missions, which is an incredible breakthrough for the company - as well as for the entire space economy.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Starship launch live: Plasma field envelops rocket on reentry

14:46 , Anthony Cuthbertson

If you missed it, you can watch a replay of Starship beginning its reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

It may not have ended as planned, but it began spectacularly, with a plasma field growing around the flaps before enveloping the entire rocket.

SpaceX boss Elon Musk shared a clip of the moment on X:

Starship launch live: SpaceX confirms rocket is lost

14:34 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX has just confirmed that Starship did not survive reentry.

SpaceX loses Starship, the biggest and most powerful spacecraft ever made

Starship launch live: Elon Musk congratulates SpaceX team

14:28 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX boss Elon Musk has congratulated his team in a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter).

“SpaceX has come a long way,” he wrote, sharing a picture of the company being founded in 2002 alongside a video of today’s launch.

Starship launch live: Watch moment world’s biggest rocket lifts off

14:19 , Anthony Cuthbertson

You can rewatch the moment Starship lifted off from the launchpad at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, earlier today.

Starship launch live:

14:17 , Anthony Cuthbertson

There are some incredible views from the onboard cameras as Starship reenters the Earth’s atmosphere.

It’s reaching temperatures of 1,400C as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere, I’ve no idea how the camera is even surviving that.

First the flaps begin to glow red hot:

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)
 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

Then you can see the plasma blanket as it envelops the craft:

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

Starship launch live: Rocket set to reenter Earth’s atmosphere

14:11 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We’re out of the coast phase and will soon be going into the reentry phase.

During the last 20 minutes, Starship has been performing numerous demonstrations relating to its overall mission of testing out procedures and gathering data.

We’ve had great HD views of the craft as it orbits the planet, courtesy of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet, though signal is expected to be lost during the reentry.

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

Starship launch live: SpaceX staff cheer ‘phenomenal’ flight test

13:49 , Anthony Cuthbertson

If you’re just joining us, you can watch a replay of the lift off right here:

You can hear the SpaceX staff cheering in the background. It’s an impressive sight, with SpaceX’s live stream commentator describing it as a “phenomenal test”.

Starship launch live: SpaceX

13:41 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Starship is ticking off objectives as it coasts around the planet. The latest is the opening of a hatch that will one day be used to deliver satellites into orbit.

It’ll be another 40 minutes or so before we see any major action from the rocket, with T+50 minutes the scheduled time for reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Starship launch live: T+ 10 minutes

13:36 , Anthony Cuthbertson

“We’re farther than we’ve ever been before,” a SpaceX commentator says on the live stream.

“We did lose the booster... but wow, a ship in space. We’ve got a bunch of ambitious objectives over the next hour. We’re going to try and learn as much as possible.”

Starship launch live: T+ 8 minutes

13:34 , Anthony Cuthbertson

The Super Heavy booster appears to have been lost, shortly after it was meant to splash down in the Gulf of Mexico.

The upper stage is still continuing on its planned flight path.

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

Starship launch live: Hot stage separation successful

13:31 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Starship has successfully separated from the Super Heavy booster, which was the point the test flight failed on the first attempt.

The second stage is continuing to follow its flight plan, and has made it further than the second attempt, which failed shortly after a successful stage separation.

SpaceX says this third test has been a “phenomenal test so far”.

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

Starship launch live

13:29 , Anthony Cuthbertson

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

Starship launch live: SpaceX launches world’s biggest rocket!

13:25 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We have lift off!

Starship launch live: T-minus 1 minute

13:24 , Anthony Cuthbertson

It looks like winds aren’t going to prevent the launch today. SpaceX says they’re “cooperating”.

The countdown is less than 1 minute.

Starship launch live: T-minus 10 minutes

13:18 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We’re hopefully entering the final stages of the countdown, as the clock passes 10 minutes.

It’s a lot lighter out there than it was an hour ago, when Starship was originally scheduled to launch. That means we’ll hopefully get a better view of the launch, so long as the fog doesn’t get in the way too much.

Speaking of views, this camera at the top of Starship shows just how tall it is. Measuring 120 metres, it’s 24 metres taller than Big Ben’s tower in London.

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

Starship launch live: Raptor engines on view

13:15 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We just got a glimpse of the 33 Raptor engines that will boost Starship off the launchpad. It’s an impressive sight, demonstrating the enormous thrust potential of the world’s most powerful rocket.

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

13:11 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Starship is looking good on the launchpad, with SpaceX saying all technical aspects of the countdown procedure are going to plan.

The main issue that could potentially prevent a launch today is the wind, which could force SpaceX to abort the test.

If today’s launch is postponed, we could see another attempt in just 24-48 hours, depending on how far through the countdown they get

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

Starship launch live: SpaceX does not plan to recover rocket

13:07 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX has said it does not expect to recover either part of its Starship rocket today. The primary aim is to reach orbit and test certain procedures in order to gather data for future tests.

Elon Musk has given a 70-80 per cent chance Starship reaching orbit - more than the <50 per cent he gave for the last test flight.

The official flight plan for today does not specify what will happen to the two rocket stages once they’ve completed their missions, stating only that there will be an “exciting landing”.

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

Starship launch live: Fuelling begins!

12:47 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Fuelling for Starship is finally underway, suggesting we’re still on track for the updated 8.25 am CT (12.25 pm GMT) that SpaceX has given.

Starship launch live: Lift off pushed back again

12:27 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Some good news and some bad news. The good news is that SpaceX has just announced it will soon begin propellent loading for the Starship fuel tanks. This is one of the last major steps before a lift off.

The bad news is that the launch attempt has been pushed back again, this time to 8.25 am local time (1.25 pm GMT).

This is right towards the end of the original 110 minute launch window, which opened at 7 am local time. Hopefully no more delays from here.

Starship launch live: Boats delay lift off

12:10 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX says the reason for the latest delay is boats in the Keep Out zone in Gulf of Mexico.

There’s no word on how many boats there are in the no-go zone, though we’re assured that they are currently being cleared out.

All being well, lift off will be in exactly one hour.

Starship launch live: SpaceX pushes back launch attempt

12:06 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We’re into the launch window now, but SpaceX has pushed back the launch attempt by another 40 minutes. That means we should see lift off at 8.10 am local time (1.05 pm GMT).

Starship launch live: T-minus 45 minutes

11:45 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We’re 45 minutes away from SpaceX’s stated launch attempt time.

That means we should be getting a live stream in around 15 minutes.

It’s currently looking pretty dark and foggy out there in Boca Chica, Texas, but fog alone is not enough to stop a Starship launch, as previous attempts have shown.

The launch window will last another 80 minutes from SpaceX’s scheduled time, so a few delays won’t necessarily prevent a launch today.

Starship launch live: Why SpaceX’s rocket is ‘revolutionary'

11:35 , Anthony Cuthbertson

It is not just the size of Starship that is extraordinary, it is the rocket’s potential capabilities. Elon Musk imagines fleets of Starships shooting across the Solar System, ferrying people and cargo to permanent colonies on the Moon and Mars.

The SpaceX boss believes this vision can be realised by 2050. We’ve heard from Chad Anderson, a managing partner of SpaceX investor Space Capital, who tells us why he believes Starship is a “revolutionary” space craft.

“Starship’s potential goes far beyond just ferrying cargo to orbit and back like the Space Shuttle. Starship’s landing craft could one day serve as our first permanent base on the Lunar surface. The vehicle may even bring the first human visitors to Mars,” he tells The Independent.

“Starship could also serve as a space station in Earth’s orbit for high-end tourism. It could also create the first orbital manufacturing platforms.

“The value of SpaceX today is primarily driven by Starlink. We believe the potential value of Starship is at least as big: the company already has contracts in the $billions for Starship, plus the ability to use it as a space station and manufacturing facility, point to point travel and delivery, deeper space missions, etc. This means SpaceX’s valuation could more than double with Starship, making it more valuable than all three of the largest U.S. defense contractors combined.”

 (AP)
(AP)

Starship launch live: SpaceX pushes back liftoff attempt by 30 minutes

11:14 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX has shared the latest update on Starship, revealing the weather is 70 per cent favourable for today’s launch attempt.

The launch time also appears to have been pushed back by half an hour, with it now scheduled for 7.30 am local time (12.30 pm GMT). That means we’re just over an hour and a quarter away from a potential launch.

Preparations are already well underway, with third-party images showing propellent about to be loaded into Starship’s fuel tanks.

Starship launch live: How big is SpaceX’s mega rocket?

10:55 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Measuring roughly 120 metres tall when its two parts are stacked on top of each other, Starship is the biggest rocket ever built. For reference, the tower of Big Ben in London is only 96 metres tall.

With its 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy Booster, and a further six engines on the upper stage, Starhip is also the world’s most powerful rocket.

Here’s how it compares to other rockets thoughout history, including SpaceX’s own Falcon Heavy:

Starship launch live: Boca Chica evacuated

10:35 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Launch preparations are going as expected, with residents of nearby Boca Chica village evacuated. This is standard procedure for any major test of SpaceX’s Starship rocket, due to the potential for property damage or injury for anything or anyone within the vicinity of the 33 Raptor engines of the Super Heavy booster as they fire up.

The first flight test of the fully-stacked Starship rocket saw debris from the destroyed launchpad rain down across a 5-mile (8-kilometre) radius.

Members of the public walk through a debris field at the launch pad on 22 April, 2023, after the SpaceX Starship lifted off on 20 April for a flight test from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas (Getty Images)
Members of the public walk through a debris field at the launch pad on 22 April, 2023, after the SpaceX Starship lifted off on 20 April for a flight test from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas (Getty Images)

Starship launch live: How SpaceX normalised rocket launches

10:13 , Anthony Cuthbertson

We’re less than three hours away from a potential launch attempt, with the window set to open at 7am local time (12 pm GMT).

It’s the third launch attempt of a fully-stacked Starship rocket, with Elon Musk saying that there could be up to six more attempts this year. Eventually, SpaceX plans to build an entire fleet of these giant rockets, capable of launching within hours of each other.

It may seem like a far-off prospect, but the rate at which SpaceX has ramped up launches of its other reusable rockets is astonishing. Last year saw 96 launches of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy - up from just three launches a decade ago.

I watched one of those launches on a trip to Cape Canaveral last year, where I spoke to people from the company, industry experts and local residents to learn how SpaceX managed to normalise rocket launches. You can read it here if you’re interested:

‘It’s becoming like an airport’: How SpaceX normalised rocket launches

Starship launch live: Watch the last launch

09:31 , Anthony Cuthbertson

It’s been almost exactly four months since SpaceX last launched its Starship rocket. While it wasn’t a complete success - both parts of the rocket were eventually lost - it did still manage to make it off the launchpad in south Texas. This is a huge technical feat, given the fully-stacked Starship rocket system is the biggest rocket ever built.

SpaceX boss Elon Musk has given today’s uncrewed mission a 70-80 per cent chance of making it to orbit. This still leaves a lot of room for things to go wrong, though it’s better than the odds he gave for the last launch, which he put at <50 per cent.

You can watch a video of November’s launch here (Skip to 13 minutes for the 30 second countdown).

Starship launch live: How to watch today’s test flight

09:17 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX will be sharing an official live stream of today’s Starship launch attempt, which should appear around 30 minutes before lift off - currently scheduled for 7am local time (12 pm GMT).

We’ll have the feed embedded here at the top of the blog as soon as it’s available. SpaceX used to post the live streams of its rocket launches on YouTube, however since Elon Musk took over Twitter, now X, they have been appearing exclusively there.

Starship launch live: Elon Musk confirms attempt will be today

08:18 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Elon Musk is up very early (or very late) to confirm that SpaceX will be attempting to launch Starship later today. Lift off is scheduled for around 7 am local time, or midday if you’re reading this in the UK.

The SpaceX boss is most likely at the Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, as he has been for other major tests of the Mars-bound craft. A lot is riding on today’s test for Musk, including multi-billionaire contracts with Nasa that require a functional Starship for the US space agency’s Artemis mission.

Beyond that, the centibillionaire is hoping to travel to Mars in his lifetime aboard a Starship rocket, so any major failures in the tests could push back the date of any potential trip.

Upgrades made by SpaceX for current test launch

08:00 , Vishwam Sankaran

The US FAA required SpaceX to complete 17 corrective actions following the failure of the previous test launch.

These recommended changes included hardware redesigns, updates to engine-control algorithms as well as the installation of fire protection measures.

In the previous launch attempt, SpaceX made upgrades to the launchpad.

This included a water suppression system to help the rocket survive the violent takeoff, which proved effective and is scheduled in the upcoming test to engage about 10 seconds before liftoff.

“Each of these flight tests continues to be just that: a test. They aren’t occurring in a lab or on a test stand but are putting flight hardware in a flight environment to maximize learning,” SpaceX said in a statement.

SpaceX to attempt key Nasa-funded technique in Starship test launch

07:00 , Vishwam Sankaran

As part of its $53m contract with Nasa, SpaceX would attempt an inaugural attempt at in-flight propellant transfer in the test launch today that could find use in future deep space missions.

In the upcoming Starship launch test, SpaceX is set to transfer some 10 metric tons of liquid oxygen from one tank to another when the rocket’s upper stage is in its coasting phase.

The test would see SpaceX use Starship tankers for in-orbit propellant transfer – an approach similar to aerial refueling.

Such a feat has never before been accomplished on this scale.

This test would provide insights for a potential larger vehicle-to-vehicle fuel transfer, which is seen as a key capability needed to carry Nasa’s Artemis astronauts to the Moon.

“The third flight test aims to build on what we’ve learned from previous flights while attempting a number of ambitious objectives, including the successful ascent burn of both stages, opening and closing Starship’s payload door, a propellant transfer demonstration during the upper stage’s coast phase,” SpaceX noted in a blog post ahead of the launch.

What SpaceX aims to achieve in Starship launch test

06:00 , Vishwam Sankaran

The towering SpaceX Starship rocket will be flown further in today’s anticipated test than its first two trials.

SpaceX also plans to reignite the rocket’s upper stage engine and open its payload door in space.

Unlike the last two tests that failed and were planned for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, today’s test flight would launch on a trajectory bound for the Indian Ocean.

The SpaceX mission description says Starship’s upper stage is expected to splash down about 65 minutes after Thursday’s launch.

“The third flight test aims to build on what we’ve learned from previous flights while attempting a number of ambitious objectives, including the successful ascent burn of both stages, opening and closing Starship’s payload door, a propellant transfer demonstration during the upper stage’s coast phase, the first ever re-light of a Raptor engine while in space, and a controlled reentry of Starship,” SpaceX noted in a blog post.

Why first two Starship launch attempts failed

05:00 , Vishwam Sankaran

The first two launch attempts of its pioneering Starship rocket by SpaceX in April and November 2023 failed.

In the April launch test, the rocket never reached space and was intentionally destroyed after its two stages failed to separate.

While in the November attempt, the rocket managed to reach space, it did not get to its target altitude.

In this test, the Super Heavy booster separated successfully from the Starship upper stage, but both were eventually destroyed shortly after stage separation.

SpaceX blamed filter blockage for the destruction of the Super Heavy booster, and leaking liquid oxygen was found to be the cause of the upper stage failure.

FAA investigation identified 17 corrective actions required by SpaceX ahead of its third test.

Launch schedule 'dynamic and likely to change,' SpaceX says

04:00 , Vishwam Sankaran

While SpaceX is targeting a 110 minute launch window opening at 7.00am CT for the third test launch of its Starship rocket, the company says this schedule is “dynamic and likely to change.”

“Starship flight 3 maybe tomorrow,” SpaceX boss Elon Musk posted on X.

The main aim of the test is to get Starship, the world’s tallest and most powerful rocket, into orbit for the first time.

“It will also fly a new trajectory, with Starship targeted to splashdown in the Indian Ocean,” SpaceX noted.

“This new flight path enables us to attempt new techniques like in-space engine burns while maximizing public safety,” the company said.

FAA gives nod for SpaceX Starship test flight

02:52 , Vishwam Sankaran

The US Federal Aviation Administration green lit SpaceX’s test launch of its Starship rocket system from Texas yesterday, paving the way for the Elon Musk-owned company to prove its capabilities in safely taking Nasa astronauts to the Moon.

“The FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy and financial responsibility requirements,” the FAA said.

The Starship vehicle and its Super Heavy booster are the world’s tallest and most powerful rocket.

This is SpaceX’s third attempt to prove that Starship can reach orbit after it failed to do so in two previous attempts last April and November.

FAA’s nod comes about 24 hours ahead of anticipated test launch during a window between 7am to 8.51am CDT (12.00pm to 1.51pm GMT) on Thursday from SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas.

“Starship flight 3 maybe tomorrow,” SpaceX chief Elon Musk posted on X.

Starship launch live: What to expect from 65-minute flight

Wednesday 13 March 2024 22:15 , Anthony Cuthbertson

Unlike the previous two flight tests of the fully-stacked Starship, this rocket is aiming for the Indian Ocean rather than the Pacific.

SpaceX is wanting to test out different capabilities this time around, which will cut the expected flight time from 90 minutes to just 65 minutes. It’s worth remembering that neither of the previous two attempts lasted longer than 5 minutes, so this all might be irrelevant.

Should all go to plan, it should look something like this:

 (SpaceX)
(SpaceX)

HR/MIN/SEC EVENT

00:00:02 Liftoff

00:00:52 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)

00:02:42 Booster MECO (most engines cut off)

00:02:44 Hot-staging (Starship Raptor ignition and stage separation)

00:02:55 Booster boostback burn startup

00:03:50 Booster boostback burn shutdown

00:06:36 Booster is transonic

00:06:46 Booster landing burn startup

00:07:04 Booster landing burn shutdown

00:08:35 Starship engine cutoff

00:11:56 Payload door open

00:24:31 Propellant transfer demo

00:28:21 Payload door close

00:40:46 Raptor in-space relight demo

00:49:05 Starship entry

01:02:16 Starship is transonic

01:03:04 Starship is subsonic

01:04:39 Splashdown

Starship launch live: What would be considered a success?

Wednesday 13 March 2024 21:04 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX will be hoping it’s third time lucky for this Starship launch, though it’s far from certain that the biggest rocket ever built will even make it off the launchpad.

Test launches of earlier prototypes, which didn’t include the Super Heavy booster rocket, often ended in fiery explosions. This is still early days for Starship testing, with Elon Musk giving Starship Flight 3 a 70-80 per cent chance of reaching orbit.

We’ve heard from Chad Anderson, a managing partner of SpaceX investor Space Capital, who tells us what he would consider a success for this test launch.

“If they can actually reach orbit on the third flight, it will be an astounding success for the company,” he tells The Independent.

“SpaceX is seeking to demonstrate the basic flight capabilities of Starship so that it can move into a more operational phase of the rocket. The company wants to begin deploying larger Starlink satellites from the vehicle this year, which will enable direct-to-cell phone Internet connectivity.

“With upgraded hardware and flight software, this flight likely has a reasonable chance of success. What I’ll be looking for is nominal first-stage performance, successful separation of Starship from the first stage using ‘hot staging’ (meaning engine ignition while the first stage is still firing its engines), and Starship reaching an orbital velocity. If those things happen, I would call this test flight a success.”

SpaceX's Starship rocket launches from Starbase during its second test flight in Boca Chica, Texas, on 18 November, 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)
SpaceX's Starship rocket launches from Starbase during its second test flight in Boca Chica, Texas, on 18 November, 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)

Starship launch live: Boca Chica residents receive evacuation notice

Wednesday 13 March 2024 19:54 , Anthony Cuthbertson

A reliable indicator that a launch attempt is imminent is the evacuation notices sent to residents of Boca Chica ahead of any significant Starship activity.

These have been sent out this evening, according to X user @BocaChicaGirl, who is one of the last remaining residents of Boca Chica and a consistent source of inside info.

“I have been notified that Village evacuation is a GO for launch attempt tomorrow,” she posted to X, formerly Twitter.

Starship launch live: SpaceX shares images of fully stacked rocket

Wednesday 13 March 2024 19:48 , Anthony Cuthbertson

SpaceX has shared two images of the Starship rocket system fully stacked on a launchpad at its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

The firm has also provided details about what to expect for tomorrow’s launch attempt. If all goes to plan, here’s what will happen:

The third flight test aims to build on what we’ve learned from previous flights while attempting a number of ambitious objectives, including the successful ascent burn of both stages, opening and closing Starship’s payload door, a propellant transfer demonstration during the upper stage’s coast phase, the first ever re-light of a Raptor engine while in space, and a controlled reentry of Starship. It will also fly a new trajectory, with Starship targeted to splashdown in the Indian Ocean. This new flight path enables us to attempt new techniques like in-space engine burns while maximizing public safety.

This rapid iterative development approach has been the basis for all of SpaceX’s major innovative advancements, including Falcon, Dragon, and Starlink. Recursive improvement is essential as we work to build a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, help humanity return to the Moon, and ultimately travel to Mars and beyond.

SpaceX

Hello and welcome...

Wednesday 13 March 2024 19:43 , Anthony Cuthbertson

To The Independent’s live coverage of SpaceX attempted launch of Starship.

The launch window is expected to open at 8 am EST (12 pm GMT) on Thursday, 14 March.

SpaceX has set up a live stream on X, which is set to go live 30 minutes before that launch window opens.

We’ll have a live feed right here as soon as it’s up. Until then we’ll have all the latest news and analysis for this crucial test of the world’s biggest rocket.