EDIT 1: New Date 03.05.2021
This first launch attempt is dicey because the weather is bad. But we have this prognosis:
It's (hopefully) launch day for SN15 🎉🚀— Leo 🚀 (@TerminalCount) April 30, 2021
As promised, here's the updated forecast for today. Bottom line, there looks like a pretty good opportunity towards the end of the window!
Data from ECMWF modelling.#SpaceX #Starship pic.twitter.com/VhhuQWsa6g
It seems that SpaceX has now dealt another blow to the carefully crafted NASA supply chain built on cost plus contracting and political connections. Over years, these companies have won contracts by spreading their facilities across all states, therefore assuring congressional approval of their offers.
These offers were so far behind schedule, below capability and above cost, nobody could approve them. The only viable, and most realistic option at this point is SpaceX's Starship. The two competitors weren't even considered for an alternative Option. Even though NASA prefers to have at least two independent products. Dissimilar redundancy is the word here.
Another great adavantage of the SpaceX option is that it doesn't leave anything behind on ascend. The two competitors all left the decent stage behind. If the goal is a continuous presence on moon, that kind of littering is not sustainable.
One competiror's initial proposed solution was too heavy and the other wanted advanced payments. Both offers only have concepts and mock-ups ready.
Last Flight Recap
Looks like engine 2 had issues on ascent & didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021
Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start. Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today.
SN15 rolls to launch pad in a few days. It has hundreds of design improvements across structures, avionics/software & engine.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021
Hopefully, one of those improvements covers this problem. If not, then retrofit will add a few more days.
Next major technology rev is at SN20. Those ships will be orbit-capable with heat shield & stage separation system. Ascent success probability is high.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2021
However, SN20+ vehicles will probably need many flight attempts to survive Mach 25 entry heating & land intact.
Ascent phase, transition to horizontal & control during free fall were good.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2021
A (relatively) small CH4 leak led to fire on engine 2 & fried part of avionics, causing hard start attempting landing burn in CH4 turbopump.
This is getting fixed 6 ways to Sunday.
Easiest way to know how close the launch is, check LIVE: Starship SN15 Test Flight by NASASpaceflight.
Rules of thumb:
- it takes at least an hour to launch after all personal has cleared the area
- it takes at least 30 minutes after start of propellant loading
- it takes at least 10 minutes after venting
A detailed look at steps and times before lift-off: How to Predict when Starship will Launch | NSF Explains
Weather is looking bad, for now. Might clear up at the end of the launch window.
Where to watch:
Aspects of Starship
Tim Dodd - YouTube: Complete Guide To Starship: Falcon 9 VS Starship. What's new? What's different?
Starship development history: Wikipedia
Background information about previous SpaceX launches: Wikipedia
Starship Test Campaign
Useful links to stay up to date on launches:
Spaceflightnow.com: Launch Schedule
Everyday Astronaut: Prelaunch Previews