Another successful Starship prototype hop

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

Starship prototype #6 in flight

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully completed a 150-meter high hop of its sixth Starship prototype, the second such hop but the first for this prototype. They have now flown two different prototypes, plus Starhopper, all successfully. No flight failures, so far.

Next they will be doing a pressure tank test, to failure, of the seventh prototype. That prototype is using what they think will be a better steel alloy, and they want to find out its limits. I have also heard that they will either fly this prototype again or fly the fifth again, sometime in the next two weeks.

I have embedded a few more images below the fold.

Close-up of #6 in flight

To the right a close-up, shortly after take-off. The single Raptor engine at the base is tilted slightly to compensate for the vehicle’s overall tilt as it slides leftward to its landing site. Note the stubby legs at the base.

The first image below is a long shot showing the prototype shortly after the smoke cleared, sitting safely on the ground. Like the fifth prototype, the sixth is also leaning slightly, though as much.

Starship #6 after landing

flames at the base of the prototype after landing

The last picture is a close-up shortly after landing. You can see a fire at the prototype’s base. Fire suppression equipment quickly put this out.


My July fund-raiser for Behind the Black is now over. The support from my readers was unprecedented, making this July campaign the best ever, twice over. What a marvelous way to celebrate the website's tenth anniversary!

Thank you! The number of donations in July, and continuing now at the beginning of August, is too many for me to thank you all personally. Please forgive me by accepting my thank you here, in public, on the website.

If you did not donate or subscribe in July and still wish to, note that the tip jar remains available year round.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


  • Chris Lopes

    It looks amazing and silly at the same time. Amazing, because of what they are doing and where they are going with the technology. Silly, because it looks like they have built a flying silo. Of course the first Wright Brothers flight probably had that same feel.

  • Diane Wilson

    That looks more like a fire under the rocket, rather than a ground fire, but it’s definitely a fire. I was remembering earlier static fires and launches, setting fire to grass in surrounding land. At least one of those burned overnight and was out of control, burning close to housing. (Not to mention SN4’s detonation.) So they’re getting better at containing fires and clearing the launch and landing areas.

    This has been a concern of mine for a while; methane would seem to be much more of a fire hazard in these circumstances than either RP-1 or hydrogen. I do hope that ULA and Blue Origin are learning from this.

  • Eric Weder

    Not a ground fire, the vehicle is on the concrete pad. It’s still venting what is probably methane two hours later from the area where the fire was. Need to plug that leak for next time. What is so great about this is that they have the opportunity to fix it and test it again, unlike the NASA days of discarding the hardware after every test.

  • LocalFluff

    Tjohoo! The ugliest thing that ever flew with rocket power.

    @Diane Wilson
    In 1983 crewed Soyuz T-10-1 leaked kerosene on the launch pad and caught fire. It burned for 22 seconds (if I remember correctly) until the capsule made a launch abort. It was ordered immediately, but the first thing that happened was that the communication cables connecting the launcher with the ground burned up. And it took the Soviets that long to send the command by radio, because of their cumbersome routine for that plan B. A couple of seconds after the crew lift off, the boiling oxygen tank burst and everything exploded.

    I think you’re right that methane burning in the atmosphere doesn’t have that kind of natural safety margin. City gas is methane mixed with something else. As a student a course mate invited me and others for dinner in the old apartment where she rented a room. When she thought the stuff in the gas oven was ready, she discovered that it hadn’t even been lighted. So she lit it then, filled with gas that had been streaming for a while. BOOOM! Pictures fell from the walls, glasses fell over. But no injuries, other than a ringing sound in the ears for a while. (A neighbor died from heart attack, but that was a couple of days later and probably unrelated, probably.) It was immediate, not like lighting a pool of kerosene of even gasoline that just starts burning.

    I once took a course in chemistry, very laboratory intensive which made me realize that I’m more of a theories kind of guy. And that chemists are crazy. We were always boiling things in acids to clean them. So I turned up the Bunsen burner with butane gas in the fume cupboard and tried to light it with the spark lighter. Nothing happened. Tired and late with my lab report and my thoughts elsewhere, I guessed that there must be something wrong with the spark lighter (how could it be, it sparked, stupid!) So I walked around looking for another one. I hadn’t turned on the fan because I thought why do that until there’s any smoke and fumes to get rid of? This time I put my head inside the fume cupboard to check that the lighter really sparked. Of course, there was a second Bunsen burner in the same fume cupboard, with their hoses intertwined. I had opened the other one that by now had filled the cupboard with butane gas. Scratch BOOOM! I got away with my eye brows burned off. The next day a small child watched me terrified and hugged his mother’s leg in the grocery store. One does look very very strange without eye brows, and it isn’t immediately obvious to people what is missing. And butane is less explosive than methane. It explodes nicely in thin air without the help of liquid oxygen, I know.

  • LocalFluff

    I must add that when I put my head inside the fume cupboard, I felt the smell of gas. I thought, at least that works! Scratch…

  • Diane Wilson

    LocalFluff, good stories!

    Our chemistry lab in high school was a good place to hang out. The teacher made thermite one day, and set it off in class. One student thought he could have some fun with white phosphorus, and put a piece of it in his pocket.

    Our school had no hallways, only covered sidewalks that surrounded the classrooms. Another student took a mouthful of natural gas, walked outside to the windows of the classroom next door, exhaled the natural gas, and lit it, in full view of the class.

    Amazingly, we all survived.

  • Craig Hendrix

    Google South Hill Virginia Crowder UFO … Describes this sixth prototype almost to a “T”.

  • Art

    Not centered, no problem. We’ll just point it this-a-way. I love seeing that thing flying sideways with the exhaust pointing to the side. I love it!

  • MDN

    What I take away most from these flights so far is that the Raptor rocket engine is real, getting realer fast. Very impressive given the technology involved, as it is a SIGNIFICANT advance over everything to date.

  • pzatchok

    I can not wait for the version with the real landing legs attached.

    As for Kaboom-a-nite as we call it.
    We used to fill 75 gallon leaf bags with Oxy/acetylene mix. Then shoot at them with bottle rockets until they exploded.

    Or we would make tennis ball cannons and shoot flaming tennis balls at each other. Catching them with old baseball gloves.
    The best thing was our parents would sit outside and watch us do this.

  • Star Bird

    How soon until we can launch the S.S. Botony Bay with all those Antifa and BLM in suspended Animation?

  • “Or we would make tennis ball cannons and shoot flaming tennis balls at each other. Catching them with old baseball gloves.
    The best thing was our parents would sit outside and watch us do this.”

    Done that. The things we laugh about, now. Life in the Nanny State isn’t nearly as much fun, is it?

  • pzatchok

    The things our children and grandchildren will miss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *