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SpaceX launch – live: Starship SN15 prepares to take off, with closed roads and airspace

SpaceX ran out of the latest Starship test, which was due to launch from its Starbase facility in Texas on Friday, but Elon Musk’s company appears to be aiming for Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Starship SN15’s altitude flight test follows four previous experiments that ended in massive explosions.

Mr Musk said previous problems with the Raptor rocket engines had been rectified “six times by Sunday”, although if it failed to land cleanly, more prototypes of Starship were being developed.

The airspace permit was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), roads with Cameron County were closed and marine hazard notices were issued.

Shortly before 1

3:00 local time (19:00 BST), Cameron County updated its website to state that local roads in Boca Chica have reopened.

SpaceX has yet to give an official reason for canceling the Starship launch. Another attempt is expected to take place on Monday.


Cameron County has posted road closure announcements

Cameron County updated its website overnight to include road closure notifications for today and tomorrow.

The good news is that this is a big eight hour startup window today. The not so good news is that it will be too late, especially for everyone in Europe.

The window opens at noon local time, which is 19:00 BST. SpaceX then has until 20:00 local time to take Starship SN15 off the ground.

SpaceX left it late earlier in previous altitude flight tests of its Starship prototypes, with one taking place in less than an hour in the launch window. We have at least another eight hours to wait to find out.

(Cameron County)

Anthony Cutbertson4 May 2021 09:15


The Starship SN15 flight is expected on Tuesday

There will be no Starship SN15 flight test today after the temporary flight restriction (TFR) was lifted for Monday.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website, TFRs are available for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Cameron County has yet to update its website with road closure notices, but they can be published relatively at the last minute.

Anthony CutbertsonMay 3, 2021 09:36


SpaceX issues an evacuation notice

Unusually for the weekend, SpaceX posted an evacuation warning for today. He warns that “space flights” between 5:00 and 19:00 could pose a danger to locals in the village of Boca Chica.

For example, a malfunction can create an “overpressure event” that results in broken windows. The same wording was used in a warning notice before a Starship SN15 static fire test earlier this week.

There are currently no closed roads around the Starbase facility in Boca Chica, suggesting that whatever is taking place is not a flight test.

We will let you know if this changes, but as things stand, we expect another attempt to launch as early as Monday.

Anthony CutbertsonMay 1, 2021 12:14


Roads reopen around SpaceX’s Starbase facility when Starship SN15 launches

Cameron County has just updated its website, repealing the closed roads that were in effect today.

(Cameron County)

No reason has been given and there is no official news from SpaceX, but this signals that today’s launch of the Starship SN15 is ruled out.

Cameron County does not allow weekend launches, so the next opportunity is likely to be on Monday.

We will bring you any updates if the situation changes, but otherwise we will be back on Monday. Thank you for joining us and we hope to see you then!

Anthony CutbertsonApril 30, 2021 18:58



The launch of the SN15 spacecraft.

Anthony CutbertsonApril 30, 2021 18:48


How should the launch of Starship SN15 go?

All four Starship altitude flight tests ended in explosions, with only one – Starship SN10 – actually sticking to the landing (before exploding on the landing site eight minutes later).

The tests last approximately six minutes from take-off to landing and, according to SpaceX Starship, must be “powered by an ascent from three Raptor engines, each shutting off in succession, before the vehicle reaches its peak – approximately 10 km above sea level.”

The SN15 spacecraft must then “transition the fuel to the internal tanks that hold the landing fuel before reorienting for re-entry and controlled aerodynamic descent.”

This practically looks like something like a belly and must be followed by a complex landing maneuver powered by one or two of the Raptor’s engines, which will take the vessel steadily to the ground.

I hope it doesn’t look like this:

(Richard Angle)

But instead, like this:

Anthony CutbertsonApril 30, 2021 18:21


SpaceX is about to evacuate the village

One of the main bases for the launch is the evacuation of the village of Boca Chika, which is yet to happen.

They can be issued at a very late notice and are needed to protect residents from falling debris or even broken windows caused by explosions.

The last factor that potentially holds back today’s experience is time. It looks very cloudy at the moment and there is a stormy front not too far away.

Poor visibility is not enough to hold the launch – as seen in the Starship SN11 fog-covered test – but lightning or strong wind and rain can change launch plans.

It is currently expected to be dry over Boca Chica, Texas over the next six hours, but that may change. Here is the current weather radar:


Anthony CutbertsonApril 30, 2021 17:36


Starship SN15 status

There are numerous variables that need to be sorted in order for the Starship flight test to continue.

These include clearing the airspace and approving a flight with the FAA, closing local roads to Cameron County, evacuating the nearby village of Boca Chica, issuing a marine alert – and all technical preparations for the missile itself.

For this reason, SpaceX does not actually announce the start attempt time until there are only a few minutes left, but we know that this can happen at any time between 17:00 and 17:00 local time (23:00 BST), according to closed roads on site.

(Cameron County)

The FAA also authorized the launch, issuing a statement yesterday. The good news is that it seems to cover the launch of Starship SN16 and Starship SN17. Here is what the agency said:


Anthony CutbertsonApril 30, 2021 16:38


It’s starting again …

Hello and welcome to The independent live broadcast of SpaceX’s latest attempt to launch and land a Starship rocket.

It’s been a month since the last big test, but we hope it’s worth the wait.

Anthony CutbertsonApril 30, 2021 16:04

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