Elon Musk had a Twitter Space where he reviewed the Starship launch. He indicated that clearing the launch tower and reaching supersonic speed before the rocket failed was a success. The rocket launch was pretty close to what Elon expected.
27 seconds into the flight a kinetic event (NBF- probably concrete debris hit three of the engines) damaged three of the engines.
SpaceX will takeoff faster next time. SpaceX chose a slower takeoff in the first launch. Faster takeoff and the steel plate will prevent the rock tornado next time.
The steel plate launch pad system will be a steel sandwich with water in between. The water spray will be a like massive shower pushing water upwards. The water pressure will exceed the rocket pressure so that it will protect the steel plate.
They did not expect to dig a hole. The erosion of the strong fondag concrete after the hold-down half-power test indicated that the concrete would last through one full-power launch. However, the base layer (sand) underneath the concrete compressed and failed first. The concrete then cracked. Gases entered and broke the cement. [17-18 minutes in the recording]
I guess I need to do simulations to see how sand can fly 5 miles from a Starship launch. I did the analysis for NASA for Mars landings, and the size of particle that went farthest in that super-thin Martian air was pea gravel (~3 mm diameter) and it only goes 725 meters. /1 pic.twitter.com/hecus2rT8Q
— Dr. Phil Metzger (@DrPhiltill) April 25, 2023
It looked like there were manageable amounts of concrete erosion.
The flat steel plate will make the acoustics worse but the rocket will be higher by the time the sound gets. The rocket being over 400 feet away will mean the sound will not damage the rocket.
The load of the steel plate will connect the launch mount legs.
There was a flame path that led to avionics getting damaged. The engine failures followed the flame path to damage key avionics.
Elon puts a 30% chance of reaching orbit next time and 80% by the end of 2023.
The Starship is a reliable design with proper engine isolation. Isolated engines where one engine failure does not cause other engines to fail is a robust design.
SpaceX expects to spend $2 billion on the Starship funding this year.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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