July 14, 2024

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A much-anticipated launch looms for SpaceX.

The commercial space company, known for revolutionizing rocketry by building reusable rockets that land back on Earth, will attempt the second test of its colossal Starship. It’s a high-altitude demonstration that will last 90 minutes — if all goes as planned. On Nov. 15, the FAA cleared SpaceX for the launch from its coastal base in Boca Chica, Texas.

The test, postponed a day to make repairs, is now currently set for Nov. 18 when a brief 20-minute launch window opens at 7:00 a.m. CT / 8:00 a.m. ET.

Crucially, the space exploration company has tempered expectations for these launches. 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 a 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 X, the site formerly called Twitter.

The Elon Musk-owned company said that its Starship progress is in “rapid iterative development” as they test the craft and make 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 SpaceX Starship launch

SpaceX will livestream both its launch and flight, using cameras on the ground and attached to the rocket.

You can watch directly on the SpaceX website or on its X account page. SpaceX will start its livestream around 35 minutes before any launch window opens, meaning you can start tuning in at around 7:25 a.m. ET for the 8 a.m. ET launch attempt on Nov. 18. (Important note: Rocket launches are especially fickle events with regular delays due to weather or a multitude of potential malfunctions, so postponements are normal.)

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If all goes as planned, the second Starship test flight will last 90 minutes. The Starship will separate from its massive booster at around 2:40 minutes in, and the booster will then land back in Texas just under seven minutes later. Meanwhile, the Starship spacecraft will orbit Earth, and eventually splash down in the Pacific Ocean.



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