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Watch the attempted first high altitude flight of SpaceX’s Starship

Starship on launch pad
Screen capture from SpaceX live feed during 1st launch attempt.
Click for LabPadre live stream,
from which this image was captured today.

UPDATE: Less than six minutes to launch.

UPDATE: Hold called at T-2:06. They have reset the clock for a 4:40 pm (Central) launch.

Original post:
Capitalism in space: SpaceX’s live stream is on, with a liftoff in six minutes. I have embedded below the fold the live stream for this first high altitude flight of SpaceX’s Starship.

The LabPadre live stream, to the right, shows that they have already proceeded through most of preliminary stages prior to liftoff.

If all goes right, this eighth prototype of Starship will go about 40,000 feet in the air, turn over and attempt to control its return belly side down, and then upright itself just before landing so it can complete a vertical landing like a Falcon 9 first stage. The company gives themselves a one in three chance of landing the spacecraft. SpaceX has also made it clear that their primary engineering goal on this flight is to test that return through the atmosphere, so that is the part of the flight they most need to succeed. Failing to land afterward but getting that data will make this test a complete success.

No matter what happens, the company has prototypes 9 through 15 waiting in the wings.

UPDATE: This post will remain at the top of the page until the flight occurs, or is scrubbed. Scroll down for new stories.

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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.

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  • janyuary

    So thrilling, and prayers up.

  • Tom

    I equate this event to being able to watch Henry Ford, for the first time, take his first car down the path and out on the road. Exciting stuff!

  • Chris

    This what makes SpaceX great (let’s throw Electron into the mix). They are willing to accept failure during a test. They know it’s a possibility. There are exceptions, Falcon Heavy ( if you don’t count the center core). If the test is successful, great. If they fail, they from learn from it, test again.

  • James Street

    I’ve never seen people working on SN8 to understand its size. SN8 is BIG. Here’s a screenshot I took off the LabPadre live stream yesterday morning with 2 workers on a cherry picker lift just under one of the top flaps.

  • wayne

    while we’re waiting…..

    Jim Cramer on Tesla’s plans to sell $5 billion in stock

  • janyuary

    Launch day, it is now 10:41 am launch time and I’m hauling my laptop room to room so I don’t miss anything … according to guy who takes the mic occasionally on LabPadre, some (I think) hydraulic issues have popped up and it looks like the launch will be in the afternoon sometime. I sure hope I get to it transpire in real time and that the “hop” is super successful in every way.

    I love above all that it is so openly embraced that failure is part and parcel of success. Its the only way to proceed.

  • wayne


    The Men Who Built America
    Henry Ford snippet

  • eddie willers

    The whole world can watch SpaceX build and test its rocket.

    Sure wish we had this transparency in our voting process.

  • LocalFluff

    With 9 hours delay, and no set launch window since it is a test jump, the thrill is gone. I might have a look tomorrow to see how many days there are until the next schedule launch attempt then. Don’t sit up waiting tonight, honey.

  • Questioner

    All the airbrakes that look like wings are already unfolded. All technicans left the pad.There is still a good chance the launch will take place today. An important indication of this is that a NASA aircraft is taking off from Houston in the next few minutes and is supposed to take aerial photos of the test flight of SN 8.

  • Questioner

    This link gives you good and detailed information.

    LIVE: Starship SN8 12.5km Test Flight

  • Dick Eagleson


    I’m old enough to remember all the false starts and drama before John Glenn finally got launched to orbit in 1962. As scrub operas go, SN8 is pretty small beer.

  • Edward

    Dick Eagleson,
    I was a test conductor for satellite construction, and management and customers were always eager to know just when a test would begin. It was impossible to know, because even after a test readiness review there were so many things that needed to be done in order to begin a test, and sometimes it depended upon a large number of people.

    For SN8, there isn’t just the launch crew but telemetry, tracking, safety, and other disciplines that need to have their ducks in a row before test launch.

    As I write this, SN8 is venting, as though it is finally being loaded with propellants.

  • Questioner

    Automatic launch abort. One second before lift-off.

  • eddie willers

    Ouch…..hop aborted at 1.3 seconds.
    Maybe tomorrow.

  • janyuary

    Local Fluff, just like gambling … it’s not so much the winning or losing, it’s the thrill, like witnessing any big risk. Even though it just sat there …. !

    If the geniuses at Space X had given it proper markings and painted “Acme Space Rocket Co.” in simple san-serif typeface on the side, it would probably have flown perfectly.

  • LocalFluff

    Reminds me of failed intercourse. (Something which I’ve only read about, of course…)

  • janyuary

    Fluff, of course!

  • James Street: Thanks for the photo. It does lend some scale.

    Who needs a tower when you can use construction equipment? Mobile, adaptable, and works with any rocket. A smart way to run a railroad.

  • Brian

    Looks like the opening for ‘Fireball XL5’

  • Max

    I wonder if they’ll try again today? I don’t see any schedule as of yet.

    Watching the White House live website they’re getting a report on the space force and the marriage with the intelligence department… and the preparation’s to head off any enemies in space.

  • Max

    Are they going to lunch today?

    I’ve been watching the completed outline of the future from Cape Canaveral about space force with all the people involved in the vice president. They are about to make a big announcement?

  • janyuary

    Max, looks like they’re going to try. It’s 2:13 Texas time right now, and six of ten items on the check-off list are complete.


  • Richard M

    James Street: Thanks for the photo. It does lend some scale.

    For more relatable scale to *me,* I keep reminding myself that Starship – I mean, just the upper stage sitting out there on the pad right now – is about 30% larger than a Space Shuttle orbiter.

    It’s BIG.

  • janyuary

    T- now tentatively set at 4:40, Tejas tiempo.

  • janyuary

    Richard … looks kinda shrimpy compared to a Saturn V, though!
    I’m willing this gorgeous beast to fly, dammit!!

  • Max

    Sorry I posted twice, I checked back 40 minutes later and it wasn’t up. I figured I was blocked by the new YouTube standards;
    Because of the link to the White House.

    Or missed typed something while jogging on the treadmill (thanks to Janyuary shaming me into exercising)

    A lot of good information given out today. I’ll have to read the official report to digest it all. There was a clarification about “Gateway” which relates to a thread months ago. He said it’s “not” a space station, it’s an “outpost” permanently circling the moon as a rendezvous point going to and from the surface, and experiments like space weather and radiation measurements in lunar orbit. (intelligence and mapping as well I bet)

    I will check back at 5:35 mountain time, it looks like with the ice buildup that’s partly fueled now.

  • Ken

    Very cool! Even the Earth-shattering kaboom! Can’t wait for SN9

  • Steve Rogers

    Very nice test flight, despite the rapid disassembly at the end.

  • Edward_2

    Explosive bolts exploded?

  • David Telford

    I must have been on the wrong video feed. Camera veered away just before launch – so missed that, then on some delayed feed, provided liftoff and some flight. Then cut to the landing aftermath – well after it was cleared by the wind. Must be a reason capturing video is a greater challenge than I can imagine.

  • David Eastman

    What an amazing thing to watch. They came so very close to a successful landing, it looks like one of the raptors didn’t spin up fast enough for the landing burn.

  • eddie willers

    Man….I thought they had it. The free fall worked, the raptors reignited, they got over the landing pad and then hit too fast. Like a teen at their driving test…just failed the parallel parking part.

    I’ll bet they got tons of questions answered!

  • Michael Mangold

    This was the most exciting space-related event I’ve watched since the first shuttle launches and landings.

  • mkent

    Well, that was boring. Weird….and boring. Weird launch and boring flight. If I had known they were just going to cut the engines and drop it in the water, I wouldn’t have bothered.

  • janyuary

    IT FLEW!!! Man o manichevitz, that was cool. I’ve seen a space shuttle launch live, I’ve seen a fair number of rockets go up just being in proximity to launch sites … but this was the coolest. The landing was a little sparky, but other than that … perfect execution!!! YAHOOOO!!

  • Frank

    Love the stowaway camera view from the rocket motor compartment. Looks like a warm place to hang out.
    Not sure if it was dropping or flying coming back. Couldn’t see any forward motion and not much flap movement.
    The low altitude flip looks like an E ticket ride!
    Hard enough landing to break pipes and tanks. They can work that out.
    I’d call it a grand technical success. Lots to celebrate here.

  • eddie willers

    mkent….you watched something different from the rest of us.

    David Telford….I had two tabs open. The LabPadre “Nerdle Cam” and SpaceX’s official one. I went large at liftoff on the Needle Cam because it had a beautiful 4K shot with the sun behind them and the Starship was so gloriously lit that you could count the rivets.

    Unfortunately, when the Raptors lit it blew the camera about 100 yards skewed to the right and took some time to recover. Luckily, I still had the SpaceX view up and saw everything after liftoff. They had a three camera view. The engine well, a shot down from the nose and the largest window following the whole rocket from the ground.

    I still have the SpaceX view up and can rewind it at my leisure. The view of the engine compartment is fascinating. You see what look like three tiny engines going to try and lift this huge thing off. You laugh….until it does!

  • Skunk Bucket

    RUD! (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly). Truly amazing though. Hats off to an amazing team with a visionary leader.

  • Edward

    Frank wrote: “Not sure if it was dropping or flying coming back.

    Definitely falling. The “fins” are for control during reentry and its fall during approach. For this test, the engines were needed to set the rocket upright again. Too bad it hit hard, but it looked like one engine failed to relight.

    Eddie willers is certainly right: tons of questions answered. It is always nice to have questions answered. Well done. New questions to investigate with SN9.

  • David Telford: You were probably on the LabPadre feed. The main feed from SpaceX captured the entire flight. In my post about the flight, published only a few seconds ago, I post a sequence of images showing what happened. And SpaceX should be replaying their feed any time now.

  • mkent

    eddie willers: I watched the web feed linked here. The engines fired and the camera panned away to a funny-looking piece of ground equipment. I could still hear the engines. Then about a minute later the camera panned back, and the Starship was still there on the pad with the engines firing before finally taking off.

    Starship rose into the air for several minutes, the engines cut out, Starship rotated nose down, and then the camera panned back to the pad waiting for the landing which never came. I watched the pad burning, billowing out black smoke, for about ten minutes before getting bored.

    Since it didn’t land, I assume they just dropped it into the water.

    Not sure why everyone is so impressed by that.

  • David Telford

    eddie willers – thank you for the link. Spectacular! I see what you mean now. What I missed I now saw.

    Bob, it was LabPadre. Looks like they were having a heckuva time making coverage.

    Gosh, looks to me like SpaceX just about pulled it off.

  • Edward

    try this link for a replay of the flight:

    What is amazing to the rest of us is that except for the launch, none of this is normal behavior for a rocket. SpaceX was able to maintain control of it during its sideways descent.

  • mkent

    Edward: Thanks for the link, but it doesn’t work. Just an empty white page.

  • mkent: If you go to top of this thread, to my post itself, you will see the youtube embed of the SpaceX live stream. The replay of the test flight today is still available. All you need to is click on it. If you want to go directly to the flight go to about 1 hour and 47 minutes in.

    You definitely were watching the LabPadre feed. Also, the landing had nothing to do with the ocean. They always planned to land on the landing pad next to the launchpad, and hit that target dead on.

  • wayne


    As an alternate, you might like this little Space Shuttle film:

    “Riding the Boosters up and down in 400 seconds”
    NASA 2012

    “Launch to landing, a space shuttle’s solid rocket booster journey is captured, with sound mixed and enhanced by Skywalker Sound.”

  • Matt

    What’s amazing is how so many space fans worship this circus. This ship is like the Hindenburg… literally. The thing even floats like a dirigible, virtually motionless. This is a fraudulent spectacle of lunacy. Smoke, mirrors, and tank of gas. Classic Space X chicanery.

  • janyuary

    Well, I guess ol’ Matt sure opened our eyes, didn’t he!

    It’s amazing the effort nasty capitalists will go to just to fool people so stewpid (apparently that would be me and most others here) as to not recognize a modern American zeppelin masquerading as a rocket when we see it!

    Oh well, Matt, just be a philosopher and lament, “Oh, the humanity!”

    Maybe you’ll feel better.

  • eddie willers

    Does Matt work for Boeing or what?

  • Edward

    Matt wrote:”What’s amazing is how so many space fans worship this circus. This ship is like the Hindenburg… literally. The thing even floats like a dirigible, virtually motionless. This is a fraudulent spectacle of lunacy. Smoke, mirrors, and tank of gas. Classic Space X chicanery.

    Possibly, but it SpaceX succeeds in developing this rocket and can launch 100 tons into orbit for ;the price they think they can, then they will have brought the price of getting into low Earth orbit from (order of magnitude) $10,000 per pound to (order of magnitude) $100 per pound. This is around as much as shipping overnight a pound from San Francisco, U.S.A to Paris, France. This is better than the space industry dared dream for, for the past half century.

    SpaceX is not the first to think of fully reusable spacecraft. They aren’t even the first to try. The DC-X, Delta Clippe, and the X-33 (Venture Star test vehicle) single stage to orbit vehicles (SSTO) were attempted a quarter century ago. These days, Reaction Engines is working on Their own SSTO, Skylon, which will use oxygen from the air for the equivalent of a first stage. This means that they don’t have to carry as much oxygen for the first part of launch. The first stage is vary large, but only gets the launch vehicle about 20% of the way to orbit, so saving weight on oxygen is also a big deal.

    The dreams for the use of space, in the 1950s, and the ideas of the 1960s are finally starting to become plans today. By the end of this decade, we should see many of them as realities. This is why the aerospace community is becoming so excited.

    It is unusual to be able to view a development project this closely, and this is why others are so excited.

    I am impressed that SpaceX is not afraid to look like the Hindenburg or to let their failures be such public spectacles. Or even to have their successes reported in the news as failures.

    The important part of the test was not the landing but the control during final approach. SpaceX was very clear about that long before the test. Both SpaceX and Blue Origin learned early on that landing from a height is not easy, but Starship landings cannot be developed until they can control that final approach.

  • Questioner

    The future of space flight?

    SpaceX Starship “landing” , viewed from Isla Blanca Park

    This video was taken from a distance that allows you to better see the speed profile and flight maneuvers of SN 8 just before landing. We can see that SN8 had already achieved a significant deceleration in about 150-200 meters altitude (from its free-falling Sky-Diver velocity of about 80 meters / second) after the rocket was rotated and before fuel problems arose. The fuel header tank could not adequately fed methane fuel to the two functioning Raptor engines. As a result, one engine shut off, the other ate itself, and SN8 accelerated again. Finally the “landing speed” was about 50 meters / second.

  • wayne

    Good stuff & excellent factoids!

  • LocalFluff

    Great link, thanks!
    Here’s Scott Manley commenting the event:
    The nose cone sits upright on the landing site after all! I can imagine Elon Musk landing like this on Mars. Then just open the door and walk out into his paradise.

  • LocalFluff

    @eddie willers wrote:
    “Does Matt work for Boeing or what?”

    “Work” would be too much to be said. There’s this old joke, visiting a factory asking the boss:
    “- How many work here?
    – About one out of ten.”

  • Questioner

    Elon Musk (and his dog) inspect the remains of SN-8, followed by his staff. It starts around the 9th minute.

  • wayne

    again, good stuff. (along with the other video, gives me a much better perspective on size.)

    …speaking of SpaceX and Dog’s…..

    Dalmatian dog rides Tesla in Space

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