I tried making a cup of tea earlier and burnt down the house, but everything after switching the kettle on, was just icing on the cake.
Woooooooo!!!! Go kettle!!!!
SpaceX's second attempt at getting the combined Starship and Super Heavy booster to orbit got further than its try earlier this week. That said, the two stages failed to separate, leading to yet another explosive end for a Starship flight. Aside from a brief ground hold to finalize a pressure and purging issue, Starship's pre- …
First and last British satellite launch system.
There have been many British rockets, both before and after 1971. For example, Skylark launched literally hundreds of times, some reaching over 550km altitude.
Blue Streak launched a few times as an ICBM, technology that went into creating the early forerunners of Arianne.
Also Black Knight.
Black Arrow was cancelled by the conservative government because they said they could get a cheaper rocket from the US. Duh, yeah. Anything is expensive at the beginning because of R&D, total cost gets cheaper as you go on. Then again, it was a Conservative government so I expect they didn't understand that kind of thing.
Then NASA said, "hey, you know we said we'd launch stuff for you for free? Now you've cancelled Black Arrow we're not going to do that."
Why does the UK do this to itself, time and time again?
Then NASA said, "hey, you know we said we'd launch stuff for you for free? Now you've cancelled Black Arrow we're not going to do that."
Though this is claimed by Charles Hill in his book, it is only a bit of hearsay and there is no evidence of any such offer from USA, other than their earlier assistance with Ariel (which was a US satellite launched for the UK). The UK intended to use the US SCOUT rockets to launch small payloads, which would have been short term cheaper than continued development of Black Arrow, but never was going to be free.
But yes, people with no vision making poor decisions. Meanwhile ELDO became something significant.
What is fascinating about the Black Arrow story is the iterative design done not by constantly firing motors, but designing, and redesigning over and over things to eliminate failures, opportunities for failures and the like. The end result was three (?) rockets that were fired, the last of which being fired (*after* cancellation of the project) reached orbit and proved the design. Did the boffins get a bollocking? Of course they did. This is Britain after all.
"Ooh, this I did not know. Quite cool."
New here? :-)
El Reg article on Black Arrow and British rocketry, part of El Regs Geeks Guide to Britain started back in 2013. Great if you want to kill a wet weekend or three just reading the articles. Even better to dispose of much of you spare time visiting the places most articles come with travel advice and GPS co-ordinates to visit in person.
I wonder if El Reg will be doing a special 10 year anniversary edition?
You are an example of why the UK will never, ever lead in Space. Your Virgin Orbit meekly melted away after a single technical fault. In your own metaphor - "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen". SpaceX will try again. And again. And as many times is needed and it WILL succeed. You on the other hand will remain a plebian spectator.
Virgin Orbit didn't 'meekly melt away after a single technical fault'. Their funding ran out, they had no more money. And the man they tapped for more declined. SpaceX had grants (and continues to get grants from NASA) to continue.
I would suggest you educate yourself first before spouting a bunch of bollocks.
Virgin Orbit was never a UK space system. It’s a US one that attempted a silly stunt launching from a UK runway. They had plans to use a runway in Brazil and another in Australia.
It previously used the same system to successfully launch small satellites for US Space Force.
So you have the current lead in the bollocks spouting race.
"The maiden flight failed"
That's about the only bit of your post that is true. Virgin Orbit went on to have a few successful launches from it's US base (since it's a US company, even if Brit Branson was the figurehead for it) before the final failed launch from the UK which you mistakenly appear to think was their first attempt.
Agreed. The failure of the launch is nothing to do with why VO is out of business. From what I have seen since the announcement of it's breakup, VO's operating costs were at least an order of magnitude greater than other SpaceX & Falcon. Even had the launch succeeded I very much doubt there would have been a follow up because why would you book a satellite launch on VO when it's cheaper elsewhere?
No amount of Union Jack flag waving was going to make Virgin Orbit cost effective unless bankrolled by a government with much, much more important problems to solve (not that it's doing any better at them).
Air-launched rockets seem like a good idea to get an edge over the very high mass cost of the first stage of a conventional rocket, however realities of cost, reliability etc. have contrived to ensure that they are not good, economically speaking. Pegasus got too expensive compared to a rideshare for comparable payloads. Consequently, Pegasus was canned.
Edge cases where weird orbits are desired are the only really useful advantage of air-launch exists, and most operators make do with more conventional orbits because cost.
Remind me where Virgin Galactic's regular operations are, again. Going nowhere, fast.
Yes, but it was fun while it lasted. Hopefully they got enough data to diagnose the issue and it is not something to fundamental. They seemed to have at least 4 engines that did not stay lit and produced the occasional outburst.
I'm most interested in how the launch pad survived as they seem to be setup to replace rockets faster then they could rebuild the launchpad.
"AFAIK no.1 success criteria for the flight was not to trash the launchpad, then lift-off, both of which they seem to have achieved"
Stage separation was also a minimum goal for success, but hey, a little revisionist history and viola, Success!
Indeed. The philosophy SpaceX use is hardware heavy. Build lots and test often. It took until SN15 to get the Spaceship to land successfully. The Super Heavy has never flown before, and 33 engines is an enormous number. Five failed, and they will learn why now it has launched. Redundancy through engine failure is included in the design.
It looks like the separation system failed, and the booster tried to turn back as it should, and it was obvious the flight termination system was used to terminate the flight, with two detonations close together. It's normally the second stage that fails because it is difficult to test something travelling at thousands of km per hour.
Musk brought his software dev skills to spacecraft design. So build, test, diagnose: repeat. Of course he had the experience of decades to build on. But the hw heavy approach has worked well for SpaceX.
It was nice to see Starhopper standing nearby. That was the first test of the Raptor engine, which uses Methane and Oxygen. That flew 'ages' ago: 2019.
One other observation. It's good to see SpaceX and many US commentators using the metric system. That's the future. :-)
Whereas I was born at the right time for selective introduction to the metric system. I can convert miles to kilometres in my head but not think in kilometres, but have used celsius for so long I can't follow figures in fahrenheit; though only understand body temp. in fahrenheit. Scientific velocities are metres/second and kilometres/hour, and accelerations squared, but on the road it's mph all the way. I can at least do my weight in both stones/pounds and in kilograms, but smaller quantities only in milli-/micro-/nano-/vanilla-grams
But the idea that the change to a sane, scientific system should have been forgone just for my benefit appals me; equally so, that it doesn't appear to most Americans.
I was brought up using metric and imperial units. School exercise books had the esoteric list including gills and bushels. Over a period of about twenty years, exams used both systems (including CGS & MKS: those who know, know....). US mils, barrels, gallons, pints and tons were always a potential source of error, not to mention slugs, as was the annoying habit of our friends over the channel of using odd metric versions (daN anyone? It's nearly a kilogram-force....).
In traditional engineering, I found some calculations easier using imperial units but overall I would always use metric. Although I still know metals by their UTS in tons/sq-inch..... And of course their En numbers which were introduced during WWII and still in use 40/50 years later.
In this fine forum, I often think that the editors pander to US units or spelling because they assume that USians are incapable of converting any unit or word into their common usage. But Europeans don't have this difficulty. Personally, I think the author should decide......
Anyway, lets agree on something ------->
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[i]One other observation. It's good to see SpaceX and many US commentators using the metric system. That's the future. :-)[/i]
This cheered me. Then I watched it on CBS and the fahrenheits made me shudder. Then it became apparent they weren't CBS anchors, they were SpaceX.
The good news was the cheering crowds - presumably of the 1,800 SpaceX employees there, so the cheering is understandable - didn't break into "USA! USA! USA!" I suppose the joining in the countdown was more akin to counting in the New Year than this apparent vogue of for enhancing the singing at the theatre.
And if that doesn't raise my downvote total, you can put a stick up my arse, paint me red and call me a toffee apple!
Musk brought his software dev skills to spacecraft design.
His software dev skills were Space Invaders written in BASIC in the 80s and a custom database written C in the 90s which was eventually refactored into nothingness by other developers. So we're all rocket scientists here.
"So the "not quite a deluge system" water will go via the flame diverter to stop it being melted."
The company I was with tried that for a small rocket engine and we melted through several times before giving up. Don't look at me, I wasn't the one that assigned the project to an intern. Joking aside, I doubt they'll be able to get away with a water filled flame diverter. The crater they dug filled up with water showing how close to the surface the water table is there. That's going to complicate construction of any type of diverter/trench. People familiar with concrete have also commented that while it seems dry when cured, concrete still contains a lot of water and such a massive heat source applied to it will flash that moisture to steam and cause the concrete to blow itself apart. I know from experience that even a small rocket motor causes the concrete to spall and flake off in places and creates a bubbly glass layer in other places.
Sure. The only question is : how many more tests before getting something reliable ?
Not knocking it, SpaceX has largely been the most open and honest companies there is. It admits failure when failure happens, and I'm sure there are many valuable minds working the problem.
Musk not having a say in it more than likely has a lot to do with its existing success.
But hey, a bit of gentle ribbing can't hurt, now can it ?
So, carry on !
SpaceX ... It admits failure when failure happens
What else could they do? World+dog saw their rocket blow up shortly after launch.
However, a mouthpiece for His Muskiness - peace be upon the Mighty One - did their best at dissembling. Saying everything else after the rocket cleared the tower was icing on the cake is like claiming Texan hospitality was the icing on the cake when JFK visited Dallas.
"Really?? I look forward to seeing your entry into the orbital rocket business. Clearly you are all knowing."
I've been out of the company for some time, but one of the landers I worked on is still a goer with over 270 take offs and landings and no crashes.
Yep, been there, collected a prize from NASA. Got a tub full of shirts.
"Lifting off 1000s of tonnes on the reaction to throwing hot gas in one direction is simple?
Well. I never."
If you can do it with a couple of hundred kilos, scaling up isn't as big of a deal as you might think. The command and control is the hard part. The navigation engineering I worked with was scary smart. The math is way beyond anything I've ever needed in electronics/mechanics.
Bigger does come with different engineering challenges. Going into the vacuum of space also adds another dimension but neither are unknown topics. When I started work for an aerospace company, I had never before needed to worry about the impact of vacuum on electronic components and having to consider how to reject heat from electronics. It didn't take very long to find plenty of material on both.
>>This completely failed to do the minimum it should have
Oh rly? What, oh great and knowledgeable one, should it have achieved? Do you, perchance, have the test specs?
If SpaceX say "anything past lauch is icing on the cake" then why should than not be the truth? They were saying that way before Monday...
We await the dissemination of your clearly insider knowledge with bated breath!
"Oh rly? What, oh great and knowledgeable one, should it have achieved? Do you, perchance, have the test specs?"
The minimum test goals were 1)lift off, 2) don't destroy the launch platform and 3) stage separation. That's what was published and discussed by SpaceX talking heads prior to launch. Elon just happens to be really big on changing anything to be able to declare a success.
"What else could they do? World+dog saw their rocket blow up shortly after launch."
Well, before it even launched, they did show a montage of the all the previous Starship fails and crashes leading up to this. You don't see NASA, ESA or any of the others showing their previous explosion during a launch broadcast :-)
"how many more tests before getting something reliable ?"
Something between 1 and n
Probability gets higher the closer infinity you get.
I am getting a feeling that their approach might not be able to achieve this. Too much stuff fixed already and less room for adjustments with each change (plus possibility of additional issues arising due to changes being introduced). It is easy to paint oneself in corner really fast. And full reboot of whole design would be required.
This kind of test prototypes fast -stuff might not be the solution companies actually need. It requires thorough understanding about the wicked problem being tackled.
Sometimes it would be really useful to spend extra month with simulation software trying to get as many viable options as ever possible just to have more prototype backlog just in case plus better understanding about the issues that need to be solved aka must win battles.
Considering the expectations for the Starship launch were deliberately very low, I really don't get the problem with those complaining about "it failed".
For those paying attention, the understanding the failures of the Comet airliner, DC-10, and Space Shuttle (amongst many, many others) are how we learned how to do things better. SpaceX chooses to test early, and often. This generates much more knowledge of "hidden" failure modes than one-off flights of SLS or similar can ever do. Much better to be doing that with no spam in the can.
Speaking as someone that lives with FMEA on a regular basis on equipment that serves for decades; managing the stuff you know about is the least of your concerns. What you don't know is what will surprise you.
Musk being a knob is a given, but at least he's on the correct side of the scientific method by collecting lots of experimental data.
Yes, but only to a degree. SpaceX finances this through government contracts and is, thus, somewhat insulated from the commercial risks. I think some of the other newer companies have even better records, because they don't have such deep-pocketed sponsors.
Even with its recent failures on Vega and Ariane 6, ESA has an enviable record on launches and some of the very hard science and engineering associated.
Falcon 9/Heavy has had 223 launches. Early variants had failures. One in flight loss of payload and one partial failure where the primary NASA payload reached its correct orbit, but the secondary didn't. An engine shut down during launch and NASA exercised its veto, preventing SpaceX from relighting it. So 221 100% successful launches and 1 partial success from 223 launches. Not a bad record.
One other launcher and payload was lost during a static fire test on the launchpad. They changed their protocols after this to not have the payload installed during firing tests.
Every launch of the current Block 5 variant of the Falcon9 has been 100% success. Most have landed again and been reused.
The 9 Starship tests all launched successfully, 4 were destroyed while testing the landing systems. If this is your criteria for success then every other launcher bar the Space Shuttle & X-37 have failed.
Go look at some of the early NASA footage if you want to see some really spectacular launch failures. Many simply exploded on the pad.
I fully agree, but I was responding to the comment that said they had all failed to launch. They all launched, that was the easy bit. They were testing the landing system. The final one made it.
As with Falcon 9, they will keep at the iterative improvements until it works routinely. Even then, I am guessing it will still need a crew escape system once they put people in it.
Are you trying to be funny or are your comments meant seriously, it is difficult to tell.
If you are serious, all upper stages of Starship went up, which is what all others can do as well. No one else can land anything bigger than a needle compared to Starship.
So respect what they are trying to achieve, and what they in the end will achieve.
Falcon is now flying twice per week and this is only possible because they made reusability happen.
If you compare the Ariane 5 to the 100% success record of the Falcon9 block 5 & Falcon Heavy, it doesn't look so good. Even compared to all Falcon 9 variant launches they still come off badly.
All variants of Falcon 9 have been launched 223 times, with 221 full mission successes, one partial failure and one total loss of the spacecraft. The partial failure was when a "ride share" payload didn't get to the correct orbit. The primary customer was NASA. Their payload reached orbit with no issues. One engine shut down during launch and NASA would not let SpaceX relight it (primary customers have this veto).
In addition, one rocket and its payload were destroyed on the launch pad during the fueling process before a static fire test was set to occur.
Every block 5 launch has been a success. Most have been landed and reused, which nobody else can currently do.
Considering the ridiculous launch cadence, every other rocket business would kill for this record.
For comparison, Ariane 5 has launched 116 times, with 2 complete failures and 3 partial. Approximately double the failures in half the launches.
I admire what SpaceX has achieved, while still thinking that Musk is a dick. His treatment of Vernon Unsworth was disgusting. Hopefully he can continue meddling with Twitter and leave Gwynne Shotwell to manage SpaceX.
I hope other rocket businesses can catch up and do what SpaceX have done, which is to (mostly!) make launches boring and routine. The more access to space, the cheaper it gets and everyone benefits.
Round where I come from, the testing comes before putting it into production.
Whilst I do appreciate that testing the whole rocket assembly under flight conditions isn't the easiest thing to do on the ground, other rocket manufacturers do seem to be have a habit of (usually) ironing the failure modes out at an earlier stage than half-way-to-orbit.
Comparing apples and oranges. If the cost of a launch is $4B even the US government can only afford ½ a launch per year and the consequences of failure would be dire. On the other hand if your factory can crank out 12 full stacks per year and your launch licence only gives you 5 then half your rockets will be scrapped without even attempting a launch - yes this has already happened several times. SpaceX are doing a massively better job of minimising manufacturing cost and time because they feed back manufacturing problems into the design. Old space put years of work into creating the perfect design which turns out to be optimised for cost plus billable hours because of difficulties discovered during manufacturing. The US government has painfully worked out that a design even that expensive to build and operate is cheaper than a cost plus design change.
Yes, exactly. They can now push out a Raptor per day. Musk wants to build thousands of Starships -- and a lot fewer Super Heavys. He focuses on the production then hardware is relatively cheap. SN15 was the first Starship to successfully land again, after a flight to about 10km altitude. It's working for SpaceX, regardless of what their detractors say.
"SN15 was the first Starship to successfully land again, after a flight to about 10km altitude. "
SN15 was an empty hull test article. It didn't have any useful bits fitted inside to hold cargo or passengers or an ability to return from orbit. It also hasn't been flown again. Hmmmm, I wonder why they didn't do that. One flight could be a fluke, but two on the same 'reusable' hull would be something.
Fluke: probably, but it has shown that skydiver + flip + vertical landing is possible.
The blatantly obvious reasons for not flying SN15 again is because the design of the ship and engines have both evolved drastically since then and the landing although a nice optimisation is not on the critical path to earning money. The focus now is on getting to orbit.
Landing will be important as well, also to become more cost efficient.
But SpaceX sets realistic target poles, achieves them and moves the poles again.
For the Booster launch I think the poles were reached and will be moved again for the next launch.
And on and on and on.
Not only that, SN15 only had "feet" for landing rather than lander gear with shock absorbers - they were designed to crush on landing, and would not completely protect the hull from damage.
Another "clue" that they were never intended to fly again was the lack of support mechanisms to "safe" Starship once it was on the ground. In fact, it was much better when they were destroyed as they could just sweep away the bits - with SN15 they had to wait until all of the residual fuel had boiled off before they could approach.
Uhh... look at Astra, Firefly, and Relativity. All three of those have had struggles with maiden launches. (Astra lost a lot of different Rocket 3 vehicles, Firefly had an out-of-control tumble on the first flight and less-than-perfect orbital insertion on the second, and Relativity's second stage failed to ignite.)
"look at Astra, Firefly, and Relativity"
I know Tim Ellis at Relativity. His goal is a nearly 100% 3D printed rocket so they are really pushing the envelope. Firefly's failure on their first go was a bit of a problem, but they didn't go into the launch stating chances were good that it would fail. They wanted to get a good launch and only have refinements to make. I doubt that Vandenberg SFB would allow them to make the attempt if their leadership was just shrugging their shoulders and saying "maybe it will work, maybe not. Let's push the big red button and see.".
"You might want to go look at some of the early NASA test footage to see some really spectacular launch failures."
That's not a very good argument. In the early days of NASA, there wasn't nearly the knowledge base that there is today. Early automobiles weren't nearly as reliable as they are today. NASA is also much more of a research organization and not a commercial launch provider. Their work is meant to be on the cutting edge. They are still very careful to have done everything they can to mitigate large scale failures by careful engineering and testing subsystems. I found out they did some of the navigation software work using an existing lander I used to work on for the sky-crane used to deliver the last rover to the Mars surface. I expect that it was far cheaper to do it that way.
Exactly. Is it simple jealousy, this Musk bashing? He warned that chances of "failure" were very high, but it was the way to learn, which is not fashionable in the West...it must be TikTok perfect every second every time. Who else can flip a space ship on its back then return it to the launch pad? You, Thomas?
"It's called testing, the results being used to improve the next one."
True, but with its size and complexity, and 33 fairly expensive engine in Super Heavy alone, they can't really afford quite so many failures as they did with their "launch fast, fail often, iterate again" that they did with Falcon.
The problem you have with large numbers of engines is that the associated plumbing can be very, very complicated. Rockets don't like complicated - the prefer things to be as simple as possible to minimise the chances of something going wrong.
The Russians tried building a rocket (N1) with a large number of engines and they ran headlong into the problems caused by the complex plumbing. Its most spectacular failure saw a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly event of not just the rocket, but the entire launch pad complex - took the Russians 18 months to glue the bits together again.
The plumbing isn't too bad on Super Heavy, the Raptors are directly connected to the bottom of the methane tank and a spider/octopus arrangement feeds them oxygen. One of the major problems with the N1 was the wiring, many, many individual wires carrying analogue sensor information running from each engine to the control unit and inevitably some of them got connected to the wrong terminals resulting in perfectly good engines being shut down because of sensors on other engines showing fault conditions. The individual Raptor engines each have their own control units built in and talk to the central controller(s) via digital data buses.
N1's biggest problem was the test stands for their engines. There weren't any, partly because of lack of budget but mostly because the engines were single use and a test would have have been to destruction even for a faultless engine.
The other option would be to go for a smaller number of large engines. As the engine gets bigger, combustion instability becomes of more difficult problem to solve until you end up the the development schedule of a BE-4.
"The Russians tried building a rocket (N1) with a large number of engines and they ran headlong into the problems caused by the complex plumbing."
The USSR tried hard to build a very large engine like the NASA F1 but couldn't get them to work. The tooling and machines needed to make them were also very custom so they decided to make engines much smaller to utilize more common machine tools and give them some redundancy should an engine or two fail. It looks like they went too far in that smaller/more direction and it bite them in the backside.
Falcon Heavy engines aren't buried in a mass of flame, their thermal loading is very similar to Falcon 9.
The 33 on the bottom of superheavy are in a far nastier environment, especially the ones in the middle.
3 of them were out before it cleared the tower, if the public broadcast telemetry was accurate.
That said, I believe this was the first time they've ever tried to light all 33. Hopefully they got enough telemetry to figure out why they failed and what to do about it for next time.
"Falcon Heavy engines aren't buried in a mass of flame"
The Falcon 9 rockets use the Merlin engine and Starship uses the Raptor. The Merlins have a lot more development and refinement compared to the Raptor and the Raptors are being asked to produce even more thrust than anything in their size category has done before.
A better test program might have been to use the Falcon rocket bodies with 3-4 Raptor engines to get them sorted before committing to trying to make them go 33 at a time on Super Heavy plus the 6 on Starship. Maybe they could have developed a Falcon variant with 4-5 Raptors that could boost heavier payloads or get top speeds good enough to fling satellites to Jupiter/Saturn/Venus on more of a direct path. On top of spending hundreds of millions to get Starship to operations status, there isn't a market for shifting 100t to LEO and only Starlink seems to need the volume to be able to launch loads of the v2 satellites. If it was just mass, the F9H would be used since it doesn't fly very often.
"and extended hold down were likely significant."
Now that's something that hasn't been officially addressed. Scott Manley did a breakdown and stated that he understood that they released the clamps 15 minutes prior to T0 and the slow take off was due to lighting all of the engines and the time it took to throttle up to take-off power. NASA would keep the hold-downs in place to just before the rocket is to lift off, but that's how they did it. I seem to recall that the Shuttle would take some of the pad with it once the SRB's lit if the clamps didn't release. I've got my ears out for any more info on when the holddown clamps were released. The last person I knew that worked for SpaceX is now with Relativity so I don't have anybody to call for inside gossip or procedure questions.
Yeah, its not clamp at launch time, relies on gravity. Engines start at 50% which is not enough lift off and then throttle up.
STS used explosive bolts and they had multiple instances of the bolds not cleanly separating correctly but fortunately not enough of an issue to stop the launch though once the SRB were lit there was no turning them off.
It seems like as soon as the initial "flip" didn't result in a successful separation they would have popped it for safety reasons(out of control lit suborbital rocket full of bang gas and all).
They let that go on for a long time. Unless that was a planned stunt, shouldn't they have hit the kill switch when it went off script and started flying back towards the ground?
"It seems like as soon as the initial "flip" didn't result in a successful separation they would have popped it for safety reasons"
I watched some video from inside the separation line with a another view of a telephoto image. As soon as the rocket veered, I could see daylight coming through and that meant there was no way it was going to separate cleanly. That assembly isn't designed for being torqued sideways. I have to give the credit for making it strong enough to stay together through that.
if you watch the fuel gauges on the telemetrey band at the bottom of the SpaceX video you'll see that they waited with the button until at least one of the fuel tanks was empty... in this case the LOX tank was pretty much empty when they pressed the button.
(look at 48m 50s on the SpaceX stream, and watch the bottom left of the screen where they show fuel levels for the booster)
AWS EC2 servers see a massive spike in amounts of data transferred, which, of course, flags security systems. and cuts the transfer when SpaceX's credit buffer goes past $1 Million in fees mark, after only 3 minutes, thus, preventing stage separation.
Well, you can imagine this as a future scenario at least...
Well... they gotta leave some CPU cycles for the website scrapers and hackers that they host and don't do anything about.
I've blocked pretty well all AWS hosts from accessing my website because of the scraping and hacking (255 ways of trying to access myphpadmin for starters)
Amazon is a POS company.
"Sure, if your cock is 1cm in diameter and 13cm long, in which case you have a very weird cock."
I had a female astronomer friend once tell me it's the width, not the length. I 'think' she was talking about telescopes, but she was married so I at least pretended that was it.
The thing that usually gets the 5 year old me excited is the shot of the Earth as TB3 enters into orbit, with what looks lke a gas flame as one of the engines continuing to fire & how "close it is to the real"* shots of the Raptors engines firing in space from camera's mounted near them.
*Given the limitations of 60's filming & granted the modelwork & filming shots in any of Gerry Andersons productions were miles ahead of other programs of that era.
So I think what you are saying is that their model work is much better than NASA had Stanley & Gerry do for them in the 1960's
(Of course if I were Elon the Magnificent, when I landed on the Moon/Mars, I would be sure to have a little motor in my flag to make it flutter. No one could hear the servo because - vacuum)
"NSF Is usually pretty good as is Tim Dodd though he does get excited including shouting "I'm going up in that* shortly before RUD."
Was that his car that got creamed by a big rock with a camera tripod on top. Somebody made a comment that the car belonged to somebody at NASASpaceFlight. Ouch. Not sure insurance would cover that.
The Van actually is actually owned by BocaChicaGirl (Mary) but is used by NSF. They have a video of them returning to the van. Its a right off and I'm pretty sure its not covered by insurance, lol. To be honest its a pretty old Dodge minivan and wasn't worth much.
That sentence with such a perfect timing...
That was happenstance.
This is exquisite timing.
(For those without access to YouTube, it's the classic shot of James Burke at a Saturn V launch, shown on the TV programme Connections)
Given you an upvote. You are quite right that it is not a Saturn V launch.
A quick Internet search has not given me the details, but assuming you are correct and it is a Titan IIIE (or Titan III-Centaur) then the launch dates, times and payloads mean that for a programme transmitted in 1978, it's likely to be one of:
Launch 5 - Thursday January 15, 1976 05:34:00 UTC - Helios B (NASA: Launch/Orbital information for Helios-B)
Launch 6 - Saturday August 20, 1977 14:29:44 UTC - Voyager 2 (NASA: Launch/Orbital information for Voyager 2)
Launch 7 - Monday September 5, 1977 12:56:01 UTC - Voyager 1 (NASA: Launch/Orbital information for Voyager 1)
Given that it is filmed in daylight, the Helios-B launch is ruled out. Various sources say it was the Voyager 2 launch.
Likewise. There's every chance the specific launch is identified in the documentary; wouldn't it seem weird (although this might be hindsight speaking) for them to attend a Voyager launch and then not mention it?
Now to track down a copy...
So many people seemed dismayed that SpaceX's Starship rocket exploded after launch. Despite the explosion, the mission was a success, a fact not lost on Mr. Musk.
1) Failure is an inevitable part of the engineering process.
2) Engineers learn from their failures, ultimately leading to better designs.
3) It is essential to understand the causes of failure to prevent it in the future.
4) Engineers should not be afraid to fail but learn from their mistakes and use them to improve their designs.
"1) Failure is an inevitable part of the engineering process.
2) Engineers learn from their failures, ultimately leading to better designs.
3) It is essential to understand the causes of failure to prevent it in the future.
4) Engineers should not be afraid to fail but learn from their mistakes and use them to improve their designs."
All very true, I have watched several iterations of a small assembly I was designing explode in a shower of small pieces of cast-iron on the test-bench. Sadly in the early 1970s the company did not have a high-speed camera which might have showed which part failed first leading to a cascade of failures. Basic problem (IMO) was a constraint on one component which had to be taken from current production and was not up to job, as I told the Chief Draughtsman every morning as I asked to have the DO's one and only HP calculator from its overnight storage locked in his desk . Left to join an outfit where my view was given decent consideration -- even if we rarely got paid on time.
"Sadly in the early 1970s the company did not have a high-speed camera which might have showed which part failed first leading to a cascade of failures."
High speed and thermal imaging cameras are two of the most awesome tools. I wish I had a thermal camera way back when I was working on audio gear. It would have saved so much time and so many blisters on my fingers to see a component was getting far too hot.
All the points you make are true.
However, the obvious comparison to this is Saturn V, and a search for 'Saturn V failure' only brings up results of 'The Day the Saturn V Almost Failed: 50 Years Since Apollo 6' and similar.
The Saturn engineers were surely no smarter than SpaceX's, so what is the reason for the difference in results?
I'm in my 60s so I admit a bias towards the old stuff that, you know, went to the moon and all that.
How much money was spent before the first Saturn V flew and how much money was spent before Starship flew.
These are different design methods that can't be compared!
SpaceX tries to (and has) reduced costs of access to space.
Starship is the next big step in achieving cheap and reliable space flight.
I am happy!
"How much money was spent before the first Saturn V flew and how much money was spent before Starship flew."
Early on NASA was doing huge amounts of basic research into rockets. You can look up the loads of information they have on just about every combination of fuel and oxidizer with data and discussion on the pros and cons of each combination. There was also lots of research into metal and alloys. Chemical compatibility. Metal coatings. Wire insulation, etc, ad nausem. It would take a years long effort to comb through all of the accounting to separate what the Saturn 5 cost devoid of that R&D. I don't even know if it's possible since a bunch of that paper work, and it was paper, has been fed into the shredders.
Saturn 5 was built on earlier NASA programs which had PLENTY of failures. Some very spectacular ones. By the time people were put in it, they were reasonably sure it would make it to orbit in one piece. Same as the Falcon 9 is now man rated. Same as this system will be once it is finally man rated.
Bear in mind NASA has killed 3 of its crews and almost killed a 4th. Nobody has died on a SpaceX rocket yet.
You forgot the Challenger and Columbia crews.
We will never know the true human cost of the Soviet space program.
During the Atlas ICBM development they were launching rockets they knew would fail. They were coming off the production line so fast that fixes to failures were coming 2 or 3 rockets down the line. But they kept lining them up and sending them.
"Saturn 5 was built on earlier NASA programs which had PLENTY of failures."
Most of that was from a 'bottom up' approach. That's where you build a small part, test it, make improvements and then combine subsystems in to bigger assemblies and test those. It saves a bunch of money and sometimes if you catch a flaw early, you don't have to redo everything that suddenly has to be modified to fit with the updated component. For a big bit of engineering, this is a good way to go. In a 'top down' approach, you design/build the whole thing and then pull the big red lever and see what happens.
Virgin Galactic has the Top Down problem. They assumed that the hybrid rocket motor could be easily scaled up from the one used in Space Ship One. The problem is that rubber fuel grain burns very unevenly half way through its use to the point where it's a health issue for the passengers and hard on the airframe. It pulses like mad. A Nylon fuel grain works much better although they needed to use Helium in addition to Nox to regulate the burn and that added a bunch of plumbing and took away some paying seats to accommodate. They are still trying to preserve the airframe as built by fiddling with the rocket motor to force it to work for their needs. IMO coming from a background in engineering and aerospace, they should have spent the time to get the rocket motor all sorted before finalizing and building the airframe. That way they would have been able to build the airframe around the power plant and gone from there. They can't take out those seats now for the Nylon motor as the flights would lose money even at a price of US$400,000 a go. They also have tickets pending they sold early on at $250k each.
It's not a "success" in anything like the same way as the first ever launch of a Saturn V was a success. I certainly don't recall one of the success criteria for Apollo being "it didn't trash the launch pad".
Let's be honest, if the thing had blown up whilst still being fuelled Rocket Boy would still have called it a success.
There were a lot of those Raptor engines going off-line. Right off the bat 6 died (they said 5, but it was obvious to see it was 6) and more kept popping without any update to the count. Notice all that green mist? That's Copper used in the nozzles being burned through. Notice lots of bright bursts and flames shooting off to the side? More problems, not gimbaling for course correction.
The Raptor engines have been a big issue. People near the test site in McGregor have been posting videos of engine testing failures left, right and center. They don't have them sorted yet so this launch attempt was destined to fail. And, fail it did. One of the three main criteria on the test card was stage separation. They didn't get to that point and let the rocket continue for a long time after it was clearly in trouble before detonating the range safety explosives. I expect there will be words about that unless it needed to be left for the rocket to be well clear of anybody or any built thing below.
I've been playing with hobby rockets for decades and spent some years working at a rocket company developing reusable landers. I could tell from watching the plume that they had fatal issues beginning shortly after lift off. Perhaps even immediately after engine light, but I haven't see any good views of that. The company I was with always went to the test site with a belief that we'd get a good run. It didn't always happen, but we'd never go out expecting that there was a strong possibility of a catastrophic failure. Trying to analyze a bin full of bits is much harder than making sure the design was viable in the first place.
In this case, the launch 'worked' - it didn't completely destroy the launchpad. The vehicle got lift, yet several engines failed. They'll have data on the engines, but sounds like they understand they currently have an engine failure rate of X, so once X is low enough that there should be sufficient good engines to lift the craft then you can start full assembly testing.
Today they learned that the separation has issues - would it have been better to spend however long it takes to get an engine failure rate to near 0, then launch sometime in the far future, only to discover the separation has an issue? Now they can in parallel continue developing the engines and also investigate the separation issue.
> But this wasn't a mission, there was no payload so likely the number of failures could be higher
Oh yeah, thats the selling point I'm hanging off when you try to market your rocket to me.
"When it is a mission reliability magically increases to 97%"
What total BS. Look rockets are DONE, D...O...N...E... Not trashing the pad, flying correctly, heck even getting off the pad (this thing sat there burning its way through its pad for ages) has been done. I have never for the life of me understood why SpaceX is re-inventing the wheel when its already been done. Getting a big tank of propellant up is easy, they managed to figure out making it land, which is cool if not next to useless as they found (to no ones surprise) that the parts are very untrustworthy once they do so you have to replace all the stuff you didnt want to originally.
Seems to me there is something to be said about going to school and learning from the experts. Imagine if we applied this strategy to child education, where every few years every school forgets everything and figures out maths and geography from scratch by testing the next generations of students to see if they fail their exams or not.
The Falcon 9 Block 5 is designed to fly 10 times with just an inspection between flights. Up to 100 times with refurbishment. It is the most reliable launcher currently operated by anyone, anywhere and the only orbital rated launcher that can be re-used. So yes, the people at SpaceX know what they are doing.
When people are doing new things, there are failures. Literally every single launch company has had failures of their production rockets. This was the first flown example of a complete test article stack, built completely differently to Falcon 9 and the largest launcher ever flown.
If rockets are done, why do ESA, Roscosmos, CNSA, ULA, JAXA, Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbital and every other launch company continue to have launch failures of paying customer payloads (while SpaceX don't)? Why did NASA kill two Space shuttle crews? Why can't Boeing build a capsule to fly people to orbit despite being given double the amount of money SpaceX got to build Crew Dragon?
Did this test flight complete all of its test objectives? No. Was it a failure because of this. No. It got a lot further than many NASA test flights which regularly wiped out their launch facilities.
SpaceX will have masses of data to put into future versions. By the time they put paying customer payloads on this thing it will be at least as trustworthy as launchers from other companies. Eventually, it may even be as reliable as the Falcon 9.
"The Falcon 9 Block 5 is designed to fly 10 times with just an inspection between flights. Up to 100 times with refurbishment. It is the most reliable launcher currently operated by anyone"
Whoa AC, slow down there pardner. You say it's DESIGNED to fly 10 times with just an inspection and up to 100 times with refurbishment and then go on to claim it's the most reliable launcher. Well, those inspections are taking the better part of a month and 10x is right around the number of flights estimated to make reusing a rocket a break-even proposition. They don't yet have a core that's at 50 cycles, much less 100. If you are getting your specs from Elon, remember the million mile battery, feature complete self-driving be the end of the year (many years ago), the semi being in production in 2019 when they've just started deliveries to one customer that also had a very large deposit paid and might have been a bit forceful when asking where the hell their trucks and/or their money was.
"I have never for the life of me understood why SpaceX is re-inventing the wheel when its already been done."
SpaceX has already done a lot of this in house with the Falcon rockets. So it's not just that it's been done, it's that they've done it themselves yet still have difficulty. The firm I worked for doing rockets had people in management actively against anything that NASA had worked out. My take was to at least start with the approach we know works or has worked in the past as read rather than scoff at it just because. I didn't design all of the avionics starting from first principles. Somebody already knocked up a perfectly good spark driver circuit and I took it and modified it to work for our set of requirements. I could have spent a week coming up with something completely original and built/tested a few prototypes, but I had a lot of things on my plate already that were much more important and very much more specific so I had to put more effort into those things.
"In this case, the launch 'worked' - it didn't completely destroy the launchpad."
The photos and video being posted make it look like they did destroy the launch pad. If not completely, severely enough that it's going to take a lot of work to fix and there doesn't seem to be much of a point to putting it back the same way. It also looks like the tank farm took some big hits from debris though no reports of how serious that might have been. There was a whole row of golf carts they had parked up pretty close that might not be in entirely usable shape anymore. Watching the wide-angle low POV video of the launch had me thinking about Apocalypse Now..... The horror.
"Trying to analyze a bin full of bits is much harder than making sure the design was viable in the first place."
Even if the launch had gone exactly to plan, there wouldn't be anything left to physically analyze. Both stages would be at the bottom of the ocean. That is why they have telemetry.
"That is why they have telemetry."
It's better than nothing, but it's not going to tell you that a hot spot burned through the combustion chamber wall and slagged the motor unless you've rigged out sensors to spot that and they survived to send the data. If a cooling channel was blocked by debris from poor shop practices, that's unlikely to get seen in telemetry. They have had lots of failures of the Raptor engines on the test stand so they might be able to correlate some data for a root cause of failure, but I don't think they've done any runs of multiple engines in a cluster on a test stand. It's going to be very expensive if they just have to keep adding sensors to monitor something they guess might be the issue and blow stuff up until they do find the problem. I shudder to think how many tens of millions of dollars just went boom.
"I think they wanted to burn as much fuel as possible. Actually a laudable thing."
The reason range safety packages are required and installed is to blow a rocket up that's gone off course to keep it within a designated exclusion zone. At the point the rocket veers the concern is the rocket heading off towards people or buildings so fuel load isn't a consideration. The rockets I worked with were landing craft so we had bounding boxes in software that would tell the rocket to land immediately if it broached the first boundary and completely shut down if it passed the next 'fence'. As a back up, there was a completely independent radio trigger that could be used to cut power to the fuel system which would close the pressurization lines and open the vents on the fuel and oxidizer tanks causing the rocket to cease rocketing and crash. The only level we ever triggered when I was at the company was the landing routine. We were able to be exempted from having an explosive package as the rocket was only barely capable enough to get off the range and be a danger to others if it did a full power burn while heading for the fences.
You can see debris being thrown into the air well above the tower right from the get-go of the launch video. Almost certainly caused damage down there. The lack of flame diverter was an odd choice. Even Musk himself is in print in saying that might have been a mistake long before this launch attempt. Considering that Superheavy is eventually intended to come back to the pad, doubly an odd decision; because Superheavy never needs to make it's way to Mars. The lack of flame diverter was partially given an excuse on the grounds that the Starship needs to be able to land and launch without one on the far end.
Raptors are complicated beasts of engines, it is worth considering how few other engines with it's type of combustion cycle have been successfully brought to production.
While it appears odd that the rocket was allowed to go out of control for some time, if it were out over the Gulf and no danger to anyone; letting it run longer means burning off more fuel and getting more data on the engines in abnormal conditions.
Nobody got hurt, fireworks are cool and all that. Roll on attempt #2.
"While it appears odd that the rocket was allowed to go out of control for some time, if it were out over the Gulf and no danger to anyone; letting it run longer means burning off more fuel and getting more data on the engines in abnormal conditions."
The entire Gulf was not shut down and cleared for the launch so there was very real chances that the rocket leaving the planned route would be a serious problem. Burning off fuel isn't a concern and both the fuel and oxidizer are cryogenic so they'll evaporate before reaching the ground. The FAA also isn't concerned with the company gaining more 0ff-nominal operating data, just that nobody that isn't involved is injured or their property damaged.
The Gulf of Mexico has a lot of oil drilling rigs. A big piece of a rocket impacting one of those drilling platforms could trigger yet another big oil spill. So "no danger to anyone" is a huge assumption.
Without wishing to diminish SpaceX's accomplishment today (and I do accept their claim that not blowing up on the launchpad counts for something -- this is Hard) I think we also ought to note the accomplishment of 50-60 years ago when NASA managed something similar about a dozen times in a row, but without the RUD.
NASA's early efforts had lots of failures.
Apollo 1 was a disaster.
But it also meant that the engineers got to make damn sure it didn't happen again. Gene Kranz's book Failure is not an option & Chris Kraft's Flight talk about what went wrong but also how it allowed the engineering side of things to improve. It let them push back against the politicians and managers who were in a rush and allowed them to put the effort in that was needed to get the job done properly. I could be wrong but I suspect that SpaceX are trying to do things in a hurry and that if stuff goes boom along the way that's considered better than nothing happening for them to show to the world.
You need to go on YouTube and search "early nasa test launch failures" if you want to see some spectacular RUDs.
SpaceX current production rocket system has flown 223 times, with only one total failure. A second launch carried 2 satellites and only one made it to the correct orbit, as NASA (primary launch customer) vetoed SpaceX relighting an engine that cut out during the launch. The secondary customer didn't get a say. Both failures were early models of the Falcon 9. The current block 5 variant has a 100% launch success record. It is also the only current man rated system the US has until Boeing can finally get their act together.
This was a test of a new system using a completely different build methodology to the Falcon 9. They will have plenty of data for the next launch.
to remember is that NASA can put the SLS (and saturn 5 first stage) on a test stand and run the engines for a full flight profile while safely bolted down.
Maybe thats where spacex has a flaw... mind you .. I wouldn't like to be near such a test stand... judging by the launch and the pad afterwards the test stand would be the bit failing the test.
Still provided for some entertainment today as we're all huddled around our smart phones as the boss would'nt let us watch the launch of the works PCs
PS watch a slow mo of the actual launch.. from 0.00 to 0.10 theres some serious chunks of stuff flying about...
4x RS-25 engines produce 8 or 9 MN of thrust depending on the version. That is enough to lift most of the core stage or one and a bit solid rocket boosters. Without lighting the solids, SLS would be pinned to the mobile lunch tower without any hold down clamps, stage 2, or payload and would stay there while it burned through all its propellant. A more interesting test would be to light the SRBs (14.6MN each) with some hold down clamps and see if anything survives. Either that, or try it with 16 raptors.
Raptors are tested individually at SpaceX's McGregor site. Failure to light today probably says about as much as the launch table at Boca Chica (which supplies the high pressure gasses to spin up the turbopumps) as the engines - which are an old design. Perhaps they could do engine tests on the launch table but as that would damage the site and as the factory can turn out new rockets faster than the environmental impact assessment allows launches, the obvious step after booster 7 / ship 24 is to scrap booster 8 / ship 25 (already done) and launch booster 9 / ship 26 (already built).
Artemis 2 is still scheduled for November 2024 (big sack of salt) and Artemis 3 for December 2025 (large truck of salt). Should be on booster 40 at least by then, with some of those boosters flying more than once.
"> Raptors are tested individually
Well, they are tested individually to qualify them after being built. Plenty still go boom so there's much more work to be done.
Some years ago I got to tour the Air Force Research Lab's Rocket Ridge at Edwards AFB and stood on the test platform where pairs of F1 engines were tested to see how they interacted. Amazing site that's not open to the public for tours. We had a liaison from NASA arrange it for us when I was working in aerospace on rockets. We couldn't bring cameras or even phones with us and the base photographer never delivered on the portrait he took of our group all standing on a F1 test stand.
I wouldn’t be surprised if five (or six) of the raptors that died at launch were as a result of bits and pieces of the launch pad smashing into them, causing cascading failures. The debris field from the pad (crater McCrater face) alone is quite spectacular, and would seem to have been massively underestimated.
"The debris field from the pad (crater McCrater face) alone is quite spectacular, "
When they were doing the cold flow test and got a big bang that damaged the launch stand, I was surprised at all of the junk sitting around. I don't understand why it wasn't moved or driven off to be out of the way. Video is one of the best tools so to have such a big dust cloud obscuring the rocket at lift off isn't a good thing. Real launch facilities use flame trenches to guide the plume in a know direction and away from the immediate area where all of the fuel and oxidizer tanks are located.
Although IANaRocketSpecialist, what strikes me is the 'long and thin' configuration. The Polar Moment of Inertia would be much greater than with 'short and squat' for the booster This would, I suggest:
- Impose greater bending stresses at the Booster/Payload interface
- Imply greater demands on the corrective/manoeuvring trimming before and during separation.
"what strikes me is the 'long and thin' configuration."
Balance a long thin thing on the end of your finger and move to keep it upright. Now try to do the same thing with something short and fat with the same mass and volume. The long skinny thing will take less to keep balanced and the short fat one will hit an unrecoverable point much more quickly.
I'd call the a successful failure with a spectacular end. The way the media reported it was diabolical though. SpaceX's iterative design/testing process worked perfectly - it made it off the pad (and didn't destroy it), and got to 35-sh km's, and this is absolutely cutting edge, never been done before stuff. A stack of data collected, and roll on the next one. You could just see how pleased the staff were it got off the ground - I'm sure they called it very successful.
Nobody seems to have observed that the rocket reached, with the full 1st-stage, in 2 and 1/2 minutes of flight, only 38km and 2150km/h. That's less than 10% of the orbital velocity. A Soyuz, Saturn V or Ariane V do reach ~100km and 8000km/h in the same time with their 1st stage. If these numbers are true, this rocket will never go to orbit. Unless the engines were used at 1/2 thrust, which is not impossible but then it was not a real test flight.
Somehow the numbers don't add up
It's definitely lower than it should have been, but SH is designed to decouple earlier than F9, and that's already relatively short: 6000-6600km/h and 70-75 km height at separation.
It's important to remember that SpaceX's rockets need to keep a good amount of dv back for landing.
Thing is, since it hit engine problems early in launch, they'd compound because the longer flight time means more gravity losses.
"Somehow the numbers don't add up"
A whole bunch of engines were lost. 6 failed rather quickly and more as it continued.
It's really bad when you factor in there was no payload. The Starship was empty and not loaded with the rated 100 tons. Nor were there any internals to secure a payload, nor a mechanism to open and close the pod bay doors.
"Maybe, but it did have several hundred tons of propellant on board."
Several THOUSAND tons of propellant, but 100t is still nothing to scoff at. It might have meant another couple of seconds before first upward movement. That might have cause the whole stand to collapse taking the rocket with it.
Go play Kerbal and build a similarly large rocket, and deliberately cut a bunch of engines then come back to us with the results. 33 engines, so each engine represents about 3% of total thrust. Cut 6 of them and you've lost 18% of TWR.
No wonder it was going slow. It's somewhat remarkable that it went up as much as it did even given the engine shutdowns/damage.
"Anything beyond the launch tower is a success" has been the messaging for actual months.
Here's Elon saying publically in advance that he gives a 50% chance of mission failure: https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/elon-musk-starship-has-a-50-50-chance-of-reaching-orbit-on-first-try
You're assuming because the goalposts are now so short that they were moved. Nope. They were always there.
The original mission objectives were:
1) Clear the tower - success.
2) Climb - limited success - it wasn't going as fast as it should have but it went in a general up direction.
3) Stage separation - total failure.
4) Escape velocity & orbit - not primary objectives but a nice bonus if achieved - failure.
Somehow #3 seems to have been forgotten.
There was a mission plan, yes; they didn't *intend* to fail. However, I believe this is largely because flight plans don't have a notion of "stretch goals". These steps can be categorized in "must succeed" and "would be nice if everything goes well"; I believe the only "must succeed" step was 1 and a bit of 2.
If your mission requires steps 1 through 4 to succeed, and you think there's a 50/50 chance of failure to step 4, you don't launch. Conversely, the mission did not require all four steps.
I quoted the original stated mission objectives - separation was the main goal which might have succeeded if so many engines hadn't failed.
Retrospectively changing the mission objectives to fit the mission outcome is at the very least, disingenuous.
Oh you are 1 million percent wrong about missions not having "stretch goals" or "secondary objectives" - This sort of test almost always has stuff they would like to do if everything else works perfectly but are not part of the primary mission objective such as getting into orbit which his Muskiness himself stated was a target with a 50% chance (according to the link you provided) so plainly not a primary objective.
To prevent the accusation of cherry picking you could do a search for "SpaceX starship test flight objectives" yourself.
Anyway here's some but don't forget it's only really worth looking at reporting dated before the launch:
space.com The plan was for the Super Heavy to give an initial boost to Starship, which would then use its engines to achieve orbit. Starship would fly nearly one orbit around the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and performing a controlled splashdown in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
Reuters: Barring further show-stoppers on Thursday, the two-stage rocketship, standing taller than the Statue of Liberty at 394 feet (120 m) high, was due to blast off between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. EDT (1330 to 1430 GMT) on a planned 90-minute debut flight into space, just shy of Earth orbit.
While in those reports "separation" is not explicitly mentioned it's impossible for StarShip to achieve orbit without separating first so it is implied.
I just barely can't edit anymore, so here's a link to the spacex.com site for "Starship Flight Test" as of 04-16: https://web.archive.org/web/20230416045641/https://www.spacex.com/launches/mission/?missionId=starship-flight-test which lists the flight plan as "Flight Test Timeline | Best Case Scenario" and explicitly states "Completion of the milestones below are not required for a successful test".
There was another objective I forgot - Do not destroy the launch pad. That failed too and might be why so many engines failed, debris could have been thrown up into the engine array.
On engines, a 20% failure rate is nowhere near a success, the rocket can afford to lose maybe 2 or 3 engines but 5 or 6 going out doomed the flight.
Although they can build engines at apparently one a week it seems they are not very reliable with most samples failing on the test stand before 1000s of burn and that's after more than 5 years of development. The lack of a test stand where they can run multiple engines to better simulate flight conditions may be a significant handicap.
By the way, in 2013 Musk promised there would be StarShips landing on Mars by 2022.
"Completion of the milestones below are not required for a successful test"
For a very loose definition of "success", but that's pushing the threshold so far back so if it fails to fall over when the clamps are released it's a success.
Yep, the launch pad damage is an actual failure, I agree. And the Raptors have had ongoing quality control problems.
"Elon Musk has overaggressive timelines" is not a premise that even the most rabid Elon stan has ever disagreed with. :P (The running gag on /r/spacex is that Elon gives estimates in Mars years.)
My only disagreement is with the failure to separate constituting a major mission failure.