It may seem incongruous to see a congratulatory text at the bottom of a screen showing a big pile of flaming wreckage… and indeed, this first flight test of SpaceX’s new Starship did end in one of their patented Rapid Unscheduled Disassemblies, aka a RUD, aka “A loud boom and parts everywhere.”
BUT! This was in so many ways an amazing test and a crazy success. The thing took off, held aloft by three fully burning Raptor engines (making this the first flight of a Methane/LOX engine, perhaps?), soaring upward to 12.5km or nearly 8 miles in altitude (the view from the downward camera was intense), then “skydiving” gracefully back down towards the landing pad before, in the ultimate pièce de résistance, flipping itself back vertical with an engine relight, all well aimed for a pad touchdown. Not everything went perfect (looks at the image above again… clearly) but for a first try this was incredible.
Unfortunately, I missed watching it it live (I watched live yesterday when they had their last second abort, and I swear earlier I saw that the next attempt wasn’t going to be today but apparently it was) but I’ve watched the replay a couple of times now and it was still intense. WordPress tends to strips out the proper time link, so go to about 1 hour, 46 minutes into the video to arrive just before the launch :
Even if you’re not interested in space and rockets I still invite you to check it out, it’s impressive enough and there are a couple of moments that’ll make your brain try and figure out what crazy thing it is watching. And if you really aren’t interested, then I submit to you at least to watch the landing flip, which is captured even more amazingly from this on-the-pad camera:
As for the destruction of the test vehicle, well, not a problem. They’ve got the next one just about complete, and two more readied right up behind it. I can’t wait to see them hit orbit.