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SpaceX Starship OFT-3

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Elon Musk thinks the next Starship’s flight hardware will be ready in ‘3-4 weeks’

Space Explored by Seth Kurkowski | Nov 21 2023

In a reply on his social media site X, Elon Musk shared his timeline for when he wants the next pieces of Starship flight hardware ready. However, we still don’t have any details as to what caused the RUDs of Saturday’s launch.

Starship Flight 3 hardware by Christmas

After inspections of Starbase’s orbital launch mount, Elon Musk shared via X, that it was in great condition and no refurbishment needed to the water deluge system and plate. That doesn’t mean the whole mount was free from damage, we’ve seen continued work since the launch on the mount. Including some scaffolding showing up on top.

Later in the day, in a response to when SpaceX could be ready to launch again, Musk stated that “Starship Flight 3 hardware should be ready to fly in 3 to 4 weeks.”

Elon Musk
Nov 19
Starship Flight 3 hardware should be ready to fly in 3 to 4 weeks. There are three ships in final production in the high bay (as can be seen from the highway).

As Musk continued in his response, SpaceX already has three ships in final production, meaning any one of those could be the next flight ready Starship. For Boosters, there are a few of those as well that could become flight ready.

Super Heavy Booster 11 just returned from the old Massey’s gun range, a site SpaceX purchased last year and turned into a rocket test site.

We should know which Boosters and Starship ships are being prepared for flight when they are moved from Starbase production to the Starbase launch site for further testing. Although even that won’t 100% mean those vehicles will fly.

When might we actually see Flight 3?

Three to four weeks would put us in mid-December, aka Christmas season. From a SpaceX point of view, this is a very reasonable timeframe, even in Elon terms, to get flight hardware ready. However, that doesn’t necessary mean SpaceX can fly by then.

SpaceX will first have to complete its mishap investigation and report its finding to the FAA with corrective actions to ensure a similar failure won’t happen again. Then the FAA will have to improve the actions and complete its own safety review to make sure the public won’t be at risk for another flight.

Unlike April’s launch, there’s isn’t a fear of having any issues getting a second launch approval from the FAA. There’s precedent now that the FAA will give SpaceX another launch on its license and eventually close out the investigations.


Huge Starship Flight #3 News, Elon Musk Inspected Launch Pad | SpaceX Starship Updates

SpaceXtudio 11/20/2023

Following the successful launch of Starship Flight Test 2 on November 18 from Starbase, Texas, Elon Musk personally visited the launch pad to inspect. He gives an update on the pad condition and possible timeline for Starship Flight #3.

Elon Musk says SpaceX will soon be ready for third flight of Starship

The Washington Post by Christian Davenport 11/22/2023

The hardware to fly is nearly complete, CEO Musk says. But first the FAA must sign off on SpaceX’s investigation into what went wrong on Saturday.

After SpaceX’s first test flight of its Starship rocket and spacecraft, it had to wait seven months before the Federal Aviation Administration allowed the company to try again. That’s because the inaugural flight destroyed the launchpad, triggered environmental concerns and ended with the rocket spinning out of control before destroying itself in a fireball.

Starship’s most recent flight on Saturday also ended in an explosion. But there is reason to believe it won’t have to wait seven months before it is permitted to again test the vehicle NASA is counting on to return its astronauts to the surface of the moon under its Artemis program, according to industry and former FAA officials.

After the flight, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk wrote on X that the rocket, which is composed of the Super Heavy booster and the Starship spacecraft that sits atop it, “should be ready to fly in 3 to 4 weeks.” The company has a fleet of vehicles rolling off the production line, including “three ships in final production,” he wrote.

Perhaps just as important: The test flight on Saturday from SpaceX’s facility in South Texas showed significant improvements over the first one in April. In the months after that flight, SpaceX installed a water suppression system designed to preserve the pad by dampening vibrations from the booster’s 33 Raptor engines. It seemed to work, and after Saturday’s flight, Musk wrote that he had “inspected the Starship launchpad, and it is in great condition! No refurbishment needed to the water-cooled steel plate for next launch.”

The flight also went much better. The spacecraft reached space this time, flying to an altitude of 93 miles, well above the 24 miles it hit last time. All 33 of the booster’s engines ignited; last time six failed. It made it through the point where the booster and spacecraft separate, which it did not last time. And the onboard flight termination system, designed to destroy the rocket if it veers off course, appears to have worked in a timely manner. Last time, there was a delay of about 40 seconds.

For all those reasons, “the situation is much more promising,” said George Nield, the former head of the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. The question now is: “Did we learn whether something needs to be changed, fixed, replaced or modified?” he said. “And do any of those things have to do with public safety?”

But the FAA also is stretched thin, which could add to a delay, he said, as the commercial space industry continues to grow and put demands on the agency it didn’t have just a few years ago. And there is always the possibility that the investigation could reveal bigger problems, which could force SpaceX and the FAA to take more time.


SpaceX's next Starship launch could feature key refueling test by Mike Wall 12/6/2023

SpaceX may aim to conduct a propellant-transfer demonstration on Starship's third flight.

The third flight of SpaceX's giant Starship vehicle may be considerably more ambitious and complex than the first two.

The coming mission could involve a refueling test, according to a recent presentation by Lakiesha Hawkins, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Moon to Mars program office.

Hawkins spoke on Monday (Dec. 4) about the agency's infrastructure and technology programs with a committee of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. One of her slides noted that SpaceX recently launched the second-ever Starship mission and stated that the company is "moving quickly" toward the third, "which will include a propellant transfer demonstration."

Hawkins did not read those words aloud or discuss the planned refueling trial during the meeting, however, and NASA has since walked the statement back a bit: An agency spokesperson told CNBC that "no final decisions on timing have been made." (You can see Hawkins' presentation here; the highlighted slide appears at the 120-minute mark.)


Chris Bergin - NSF

SpaceX Rolls Out Ship 28 for Third Starship Flight Test Campaign

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