The FAA cleared SpaceX for the launch from its coastal base in Boca Chica, Texas, on Nov. 15. The commercial space company, known for revolutionizing rocketry by building reusable rockets that land back on Earth, planned a high-altitude demonstration that was expected to last for 90 minutes, barring any issues. The test was postponed by a day — to the 18th when a brief 20-minute launch window was set to open at 7:00 a.m. CT / 8:00 a.m. ET — to make repairs.
Crucially, the space exploration company has tempered expectations for these launches, and rightfully so. Starship — standing 397 feet high (with its booster) and powered by a whopping 33 engines — isn’t nearly a finished vehicle. It’s still in the demonstration phase. The first launch test in April 2023 saw Starship fly for around three minutes before SpaceX deliberately destroyed the wayward rocket.
“Starship stacked for flight. This is another chance to put Starship in a true flight environment, maximizing how much we learn,” SpaceX wrote on Nov. 16 on X, the site formerly called Twitter.
The Elon Musk-owned company said that its Starship progress is in “rapid iterative development” as the company tests the craft and makes the necessary modifications. One day, SpaceX plans for Starship to be “a fully reusable launch system capable of carrying satellites, payloads, crew, and cargo to a variety of orbits and Earth, lunar, and Martian landing sites.”
How to watch the replay of the SpaceX Starship launch
SpaceX live-streamed both its launch and flight, using cameras on the ground and attached to the rocket.
You can watch the replay directly on the SpaceX website or on its X account page. SpaceX started its livestream before the launch window opened, so if you want to skip the pre-programming and go to the launch itself, head to 38 minutes on the replay.
The rocket’s enormous booster lifted off and separated successfully from the top half of the Starship before exploding; instead of landing in the Gulf of Mexico as planned. Communication with the top half of the rocket was lost a few minutes after that, at 480,000 feet, when it was destroyed — right before SpaceX was set to shut down its engines. It was originally planned that the Starship would orbit Earth before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.