Update 6:15 p.m. ET: The Starship prototype launched and ascended to high altitude, but it crashed while attempting the landing, creating a massive fireball. The vehicle was absolutely obliterated in the explosion. The launch seemed to be going well at first, but it appears that one of the rocket’s three Raptor engines cut out, followed by a second engine failure. It’s not clear what happened, or if these apparent engine issues had anything to do with the failed landing. That said, it did appear that the rocket’s landing boosters kicked in too late.
In a series of tweets, Elon Musk described the test as a “successful ascent,” saying “Mars, here we come!!”
Here are some photos of the launch:
Original article appears below.
After a last-second abort yesterday, SpaceX is back on track to send a prototype of its Starship rocket to a high altitude. You can watch the action live right here.
The window for today’s launch begins around 3:00 p.m. ET (12:00 p.m. PT) and ends sharply at 6:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. PT). You can stream SpaceX’s webcast here:
If SpaceX’s stream is not live, you can watch this unofficial livestream from LabPadre, a YouTube channel that casts SpaceX launches in Boca Chica, Texas:
Starship was supposed to go up yesterday, but a Raptor engine auto-abort kicked in with literally one second left in the countdown. This is a test, so there’s no guarantee the prototype, designated SN8, will blast off today from SpaceX’s test site in Boca Chica, Texas. Weather at the launch site looks favorable, as Eric Berger reports at Ars Technica.
Should all go well, the 165-foot-tall (50-meter) rocket will ascend to a height of 7.8 miles (12.5 km) and then come back down. During previous tests, prototypes were limited to altitudes of 490 feet (150 meters).
Unlike other prototypes, SN8 has three Raptor engines, a nose cone, and body flaps for stabilization. The vehicle will attempt a landing flip maneuver, which has never been done with a rocket of this size. Aside from getting this rocket airborne, Space X will monitor the performance of the Raptor engines and assess the vehicle’s aerodynamic capabilities.
Eventually, SpaceX hopes that Starship will be used to deliver cargo and passengers to Earth orbit, the Moon, and Mars.