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Starship Flight 3 (unofficially IFT-3 for Integrated flight test) launched on 14 March 2024 at 8:25 am CDT. Ship 28 (S28) and Booster 10 (B10) flew on the mission. Flight 3 was a big improvement over Flight 2. The Booster had a nominal ascent and ignited 33 of its Raptor engines. After a successful hot-stage the booster started its boost back burn and ignited all 13 inner engines. The ship ignited all 6 engines and had a nominal ascent. During re-entry the Booster began to lose control and failed to re-ignite 10 of the 13 engines for the landing burn. It exploded at a height of 462 meters above the Gulf of Mexico. During the coast phase of the ship, some tests were performed. It opened its payload bay door and closed it again. It also did a transfer between the header tank and the main tank. Starship did not attempt a relight of one of its engines for a simulation of a de-orbit burn, one of the flight key objectives, because of the roll rates of the ship. Ship 28 intended to make a hard splashdown in the Indian Ocean, but burnt up beforehand during hypersonic reentry, probably due to the lack of control.

Ship 28 did 2 spin primes, the first with 6 engines and later, after engine replacement, with 2 or 3 engines. It has also done 2 static fires, one with 6 and the other with 1 engine. Booster 10 was the first Booster to skip the spin prime test and go straight into a static fire with all of its engines. The full stack finally completed a full Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) on the 3rd of March 2024 after aborting two attempts earlier.[1]

Gallery[]

Lift off view from OLIT

Lift off

Pez door checkout complete, door closing

Starship re-entering Earth's atmosphere. Views through the plasma


Resources[]

Streams[]

Recap and Analysis Videos[]

Pre-launch info[]

Post-launch information[]

26 April 2024 - Amit Kshatriya[]

According to NASA's Amit Kshatriya, "the inter-tank cryogenic propellant transfer test on the third Starship flight last month was successful by all accounts, although analysis of data from it is ongoing."[2]

19 March 2024 - Gwynne Shotwell[]

On a panel at the Satellite conference, Gwynne Shotwell said SpaceX should be ready to fly Starship again in about six weeks. Teams were still reviewing the data from the last flight and flight 4 would not have satellites on board.[3] She added that the goal for Starship this year is to reach orbit, deploy satellites and recover both stages. And of course to launch Falcon 9 148 times.[4]

19 March 2024 - FAA's Kelvin Coleman (Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation) Statement[]

FAA's Kelvin Coleman (Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation) says that he didn't see any major issues with last week's Starship launch. but as usual, a mishap investigation must be done. He also affirms that SpaceX is aiming for 6-9 more Starship launches this year.[5]

14 March 2024 - SpaceX Web[]

The following milestones were accomplished according to SpaceX:[6]

  • For the second time, all 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy Booster started up successfully and completed a full-duration burn during ascent.
  • Starship executed its second successful hot-stage separation, powering down all but three of Super Heavy's Raptor engines and successfully igniting the six second stage Raptor engines before separating the vehicles.
  • Following separation, the Super Heavy booster successfully completed its flip maneuver and completed a full boostback burn to send it towards its splashdown point in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Super Heavy successfully lit several engines for its first ever landing burn before the vehicle experienced a RUD (that's SpaceX-speak for “rapid unscheduled disassembly”). The booster's flight concluded at approximately 462 meters in altitude and just under seven minutes into the mission.
  • Starship's six second stage Raptor engines all started successfully and powered the vehicle to its expected orbit, becoming the first Starship to complete its full-duration ascent burn.
  • While coasting, Starship accomplished several of the flight test's additional objectives, including the opening and closing of its payload door (aka the pez dispenser,) and initiating a propellant transfer demonstration. Starship did not attempt its planned on-orbit relight of a single Raptor engine due to vehicle roll rates during coast. Results from these demonstrations will come after postflight data review is complete.
  • Starship went on to experience its first ever entry from space, providing valuable data on heating and vehicle control during hypersonic reentry. Live views of entry were made possible by Starlink terminals operating on Starship.
  • The flight test's conclusion came during entry, with the last telemetry signals received via Starlink from Starship at approximately 49 minutes into the mission.

14 March 2024 - NASA[]

NASA announced that their teams are working to review data from the transfer demonstration: "Cryogenic fluid technologies are critical for human missions to the Moon and Mars and our future exploration goals. Today, during the Starship test flight, we worked with SpaceX to demonstrate a liquid oxygen propellant transfer. Teams are reviewing flight data to learn how it went."[7]

14 March 2024 - FAA[]

"A mishap occurred during the @SpaceX Starship OFT-3 mission that launched from Boca Chica, Texas, on March 14. The mishap involved both the Super Heavy booster and the Starship vehicle. The FAA will oversee the SpaceX-led mishap investigation."[8] They also added, that "No public injuries or public property damage have been reported."[9]

14 March 2024 - Bill Nelson[]

"Congrats to @SpaceX on a successful test flight! Starship has soared into the heavens. Together, we are making great strides through Artemis to return humanity to the Moon—then look onward to Mars."[10]

Launch information[]

The third flight test of Starship launched Thursday, March 14. They had a 110-minute launch window that opened at 7:00 am CT. After 4 different delays for a variety of reasons, they launched on 8:25 am CDT. The test profile and the buring profile were very similar to the plans for flight test 2, with one major difference: A steeper trajectory was chosen so that the ship would splash down into the Indian Ocean instead of the Pacific. This decision was made to enable tests such as Raptor relight in space while maximizing public safety, with a concise footprint in the Indian Ocean.[11]

Aims[]

The goals of the launch as stated by SpaceX were: "The third flight test aims to build on what we’ve learned from previous flights while attempting a number of ambitious objectives, including the successful ascent burn of both stages, opening and closing Starship’s payload door, a propellant transfer demonstration during the upper stage’s coast phase, the first ever re-light of a Raptor engine while in space, and a controlled reentry of Starship. It will also fly a new trajectory, with Starship targeted to splashdown in the Indian Ocean. This new flight path enables us to attempt new techniques like in-space engine burns while maximizing public safety."[12] A recovery of the vehicles was not intended. A main goal was to gather data on the ship's temperatures during reentry and the performance of the TPS-tiles. Data on in-space propellant transfer (such as pressure, temperatures, propellant setteling) is vital to develop the capabilities needed for moon landings and deep space missions, where ships have to be refueled in space.[6] For data transmission during reentry, SpaceX relies on the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) at a very low data rate, however they also have installed Starlink terminals with which they hope to maintain a stable connection that could even allow continuous live video from the ship. This is possible thanks to the size of the ship which acts as a shield, leaving a wake or hole in the plasma field. Nevertheless, SpaceX is still gathering data on how this works out in practice.

The relight of a Raptor engine is space was not attempted for because of off nominal roll rates of the ship. Controlled reentry of Starship did not happen as it exploded in the upper atmosphere. The booster soft splashdown did not happen as only 3 out of 13 engines reignited and exploded at a height of 462 meters above the Gulf of Mexico.

Countdown[]

Planned T-Hr/Min/Sec[12] Event
01:15:00 SpaceX Flight Director conducts poll and verifies GO for propellant load
00:53:00 Ship LOX (liquid oxygen) load underway
00:51:00 Ship fuel (liquid methane) load underway
00:42:00 Booster LOX load underway
00:41:00 Booster fuel load underway
00:19:40 Raptor begins engine chill on booster and ship
00:03:30 Booster propellant load complete [vs stream info]
00:02:50 Ship propellant load complete [vs stream info]
00:00:30 SpaceX flight director verifies GO for launch
00:00:10 Flame deflector activation
00:00:03 Raptor ignition sequence begins
00:00:00 Launch!

Mission Profile[12][]

240312-SPACEX STARSHIP INFOGRAPHIC 120823 web 60d0074bde

Mission profile of flight test 3 (c SpaceX)

Flight test timeline[12][]

Hr/Min/Sec Event Planned T Event
00:00:02 Liftoff 00:00:02 Liftoff
00:00:52 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket) 00:00:52 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:42 Booster MECO (most engines cut off, 3 remaining) 00:02:42 Booster MECO (most engines cut off, 3 remaining)
00:02:47 Hot-staging (Starship Raptor ignition and stage separation) 00:02:44 Hot-staging (Starship Raptor ignition and stage separation)
00:02:52 Booster boostback burn startup 00:02:55 Booster boostback burn startup
00:03:47 Booster boostback burn shutdown 00:03:50 Booster boostback burn shutdown
00:06:36 Booster is transonic 00:06:36 Booster is transonic
00:06:54 Booster landing burn startup 00:06:46 Booster landing burn startup
00:07:00 Super Heavy Vehicle Loss 00:07:04 Booster landing burn shutdown
00:08:35 Starship engine cutoff 00:08:35 Starship engine cutoff; coast phase of ~30 minutes at altitudes between 150 and 235 km
00:11:56 Payload door open 00:11:56 Payload door open
00:24:31 Propellant transfer demo 00:24:31 Propellant transfer demo
00:28:21 Payload door close 00:28:21 Payload door close
00:40:46 Raptor in-space relight demo (skipped)
00:49:05 Starship entry 00:49:05 Starship entry; no deorbit burn necessary as the ship would reach orbital velocity but not orbital,
00:50:00 Loss of Starship 01:02:16 Starship is transonic (Precluded)
01:03:04 Starship is subsonic (Precluded)
01:04:39 An exciting landing! (Precluded)


14 March 2024 - Launch[]

Launch summary from Ringwatchers Discord: After another perfect 33 engine burn and separation, Booster 10 becomes the first booster to complete its boostback burn and to attempt entry and landing. However, the booster struggled to relight its engines for the landing burn and makes a hard impact in the gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, Ship 28 becomes the first Starship to complete a 6 engine burn, reaching orbital velocity at an altitude of 230 km and a speed of over 26000 km/h. It completed a number of milestones, opening and closing its payload bay door, performing a "on orbit" transfer demo, between the header tank and the main tank, and managed to start reentry. Ship 28 was unfortunately lost on reentry while over the Indian Ocean.

Propellant load time was significantly reduced from previoiusly 90 minutes to around 51 minutes (as demonstrated on the wet dress rehearsal) with upgrades to the launch infrastructure. More fuel and LOX pumps were added, more heat exchangers installed and a dedicated fill-drain-line was installed for each stage. SpaceX intends to further reduce the load time to 40 minutes in the future. The time from engine ignition sequence startup to lift off was reduced from 6 secons on flight test 1 to just over 4 seconds for flight test 2 and 3 to reduce the stress on the ground equipment.

Timeline[]

Timeline according to Labpadre and SpaceX:

  • 00:05 Road Closed
  • 01:42 Detonation Suppression Test performed on OLM
  • 02:11 Pad Clear
  • 04:27 Village clearing underway
  • 04:44 LOX subcoolers began venting
  • 05:11 Chopsticks opened to flight configuration
  • 05:23 Village has been evacuated
  • 05:42 OLM and OLIT venting
  • 06:04 "Weather is 70% favorable for today’s third integrated flight test of Starship. The live webcast will begin ~30 minutes before liftoff, which is currently targeted for 7:30 a.m. CT"[13]
  • 06:50 "New liftoff time is 8:02 a.m. CT, team is clearing a few boats from the keep out area in the Gulf of Mexico"[14]
  • 07:03 "Shifting T-0 a few more minutes to give boats time to clear the keep out area, now targeting 8:10 a.m. CT"[15]
  • 07:24 "The Starship team is go for prop load but keeping an eye on winds, now targeting 8:25 a.m. CT for liftoff"[16]
  • 07:34 Prop Load [SpaceX announcement[17]]
  • 07:40 Booster load underway [SpaceX[18]]
  • 08:08 Engine Chill
  • 08:25 Liftoff
  • 09:26 Chopsticks moved back to resting configuration, lowered
  • 09:37 Crews headed to launch site, inspecting the area
  • 10:07 Road opened

Stream Timeline[]

Stream hosted by Kate Tice (Quality Engineering Manager) and Siva Bharadvaj (Space Operations Engineer); Dan Huot (Communications)

  • -53:00 Ship loading started
  • -42:00 Booster loading started
  • -31:38 Stream started
  • -30:00 (approximately) booster hold down clamps released
  • -20:20 Update: No issues on vehicles, currently clearing the range, keeping an eye on winds
  • -19:58 Prop load: (S: CH4 81%, LOX 84%; B: CH4 59%, S 62%)
  • -11:39 Update: No issues on vehicles, range clear, winds still possibly an issue - may use T-0:40 hold
  • -10:50 Prop load: Currently loading header tanks; (S: CH4 85%, LOX 85%; B: 79%, LOX 81%)
  • -05:30 Update: No issues on vehicles, winds might still be an issue
  • -03:30 Ship load complete
  • -02:50 Booster load complete
  • -01:45 Update: Prop load has closed up, winds likely not going to be an issue; info: Ignition in 3 banks: 13 of inner, 15 of outer, last 5 at -00:02; lift off at around +00:01.5
  • -00:40 Hold possibility not used
  • -00:30 "T-30 seconds, flight director is go for launch" (Ty Huntington)
  • -00:19-16 FIREX system start up
  • -00:06-03 Deluge system start up
  • -00:01.8 (approx.) Inner 13 engines ignited (1 in middle ring approx. 0.2 seconds later )
  • -00:00.8 (approx.) 15 outer engines ignited
  • -00:00.0 (approx.) 1 of remaining outer engines ignited
  • +00:00.2 (approx.) last 4 engines ignited
  • +00:01.0 (approx.) Lift off according to speed telemetry (1 km/h)
  • +00:26 "Booster ... chamber pressure nominal"
  • +00:48 "Booster and Ship: Avionics, power and telemetry nominal"
  • +00:50 "Acquisition of signal: Corpus Christi"
  • +00:56 "MaxQ" (Altitude ~7.5 km, speed ~1040 km/h)
  • +01:10 "Vehicle supersonic" (Actual time according to telemtry: T+01:07, Altitude ~10 km, speed 1236 km/h)
  • +02:00 Unclear announcement
  • +02:42-43 Booster MECO
    • +02:42.3 (approx.) 3 outer engines cut off (66 km, 5710 km/h)
    • +02:42.5 (approx.) 3 more outer engines cut off (67 km, 5720 km/h)
    • +02:42.7 (approx.) 4 more outer engines cut off (67 km, 5729 km/h), now every second outer engine is cut off
    • +02:42.9 (approx.) 5 more outer engines cut off (67 km, 5736 km/h)
    • +02:43.1 (approx.) 4 more outer engines cut off (67 km, 5742 km/h)
    • +02:43.3 (approx.) last outer, 4 middle engines cut off (67 km, 5746 km/h)
    • +02:43.5 (approx.) 3 more middle engines cut off (67 km, 5749 km/h)
    • +02:43.7 (approx.) last 2 middle engines cut off (68 km, 5750 km/h)
  • +02:47-48 Ship engine ignition
    • +02:47.7 (approx.) 3 Rvac ignite (70 km, 5712 km/h)
    • +02:48.6 (approx.) 3 center engines ignite (71 km, 5693 km/h) [according to telemetry, fire visible later]
  • +02:49.x Separation
  • +02:52-53 Boost back burn ignition
    • +02:52.5 (approx.) 2 booster middle engines ignite (74 km, 5658 km/h)
    • +02:52.7 (apporx.) 2 more booster middle engines ignite
    • +02:53.1 (apporx.) 2 more booster middle engines ignite
    • +02:53.3 (apporx.) 2 more booster middle engines ignite (74 km, 5660 km/h)
    • +02:53.7 (apporx.) last 2 booster middle engines ignite (75 km, 5665 km/h)
  • +03:29 "Ship avionic, power and telemetry nominal"
  • +03:41 "Ship champer pressure nominal"
  • +03:40-47 Boster engine cut off
    • +03:40.1 One middle engine cut off (101 km, 1208 km/h)
    • +03:40.7 One more middle engine cut off right next to first (101 km, 1173 km/h)
    • +03:40.9 One more middle engine cut off right next to first (101 km, 1162 km/h)
    • +03:41.3 One more middle engine cut off right next to them (101 km, 1141 km/h)
    • +03:41.7 One more middle engine cut off right next to them (101 km, 1124 km/h)
    • +03:41.9 One more middle engine cut off right next to them (102 km, 1075 km/h)
    • +03:45.9 Two more middle engine cut off (103 km, 996 km/h)
    • +03:46.1 Last middle engine cut off (103 km, 991 km/h)
    • +03:47.7 Three inner engines cut off (103 km, 952 km/h)
  • +05:10 "Booster on a nominal trajectory"
  • +06:04 Booster grid fins actuated for the first time in this flight (49 km, 3779 km/h)
  • +06:46 Booster seems to start getting out of control
  • +06:54 Booster landing burn ignition (attempt)
    • +06:54.1 One center engine ignited (2 km, 1340 km/h)
    • +06:54.7 Two middle engines ignited (1 km, 1320 km/h)
    • +06:55.7 One middle engine cut off/failed (1 km, 1274 km/h)
  • +06:57 Green exhaust visible
  • +06:58.9 Other middle engine cut off/failed (0 km, 1120 km/h)
  • +06:59.4 Last image of booster
  • +06:59.8 Last telemetry info (delayed): 0 km, 1111 km/h
  • +07:54 "Ship is in terminal guidance"
  • +08:20-35 Ship engine cut off
    • +08:20.7 Rvac shut off (147 km, 25637 km/h)
    • +08:35.1 Two center engines shut off (149 km, 26471 km/h)
    • +08:35.3 Third center engine shut off (149 km, 26478 km/h)
  • +08:50 "Starship nominal orbital insertion"
  • +11:44 "Acquisition of signal: Puerto Rico"
  • +11:58 "PEZ-door is opening"
  • +14:21 Views from inside the ship, door not yet open
  • +16:13 Views from inside the ship, door now open
  • +19:11 Views from outside the ship, showing the rotation/roll
  • +23:31 Short telemetry glitch
  • +25:02 (approx.) Apogee (234 km, 26114 km/h); speed increasing from now on, altitude decreasing
  • +28:28 "[PEZ?] check-out is complete, door is closing"
  • +28:58 View with still open door
  • +30:19 View from PEZ-door: still open, jumpy movement
  • +30:28, +32:11, +34:30 Great views of Starship rolling
  • +38:00 Launch recap by hosts; confirmation that PEZ-door and prop transfer demos were carried out, data will need to be reviewed; Upcoming is relight
  • +39:55 40–50 seconds away from Raptor engine relight (not a deorbit burn)
  • +41:30 "Sounds like we are skipping past the onorbit relight demo this time"
  • +42:52 "Expected loss of signal" [?]
  • +42:55 Starlink video regained
  • +43:26 "Acquisition of Signal: ??"
  • +44:30 "Acquisition of Signal: Mauricius"
  • +44:49 Flaps actuated again (115 km, 26652 km/h)
  • +46:17 Reentry started, heating/plasma visible (100 km, 26720 km/h)
  • +47:43 Peak speed on reentry reached (85 km, 26759 km/h); speed decreasing now
  • +48:18 "Starship is at 80km altitude" (actual time T+48:15)
  • +48:39 Image lost (76 km, 26646 km/h)
  • +48:55 Image shortly regained (73 km, 26530 km/h)
  • +49:39 Telemetry loss: altitude 65 km, speed 25724 km/h
  • +50:20 Telemetry adjustment: a 65 km, s 25707 km/h
  • +53:10 Update: Waiting on whether they get data back
  • +1:00:33 Update: Telemetry lost on Starlink and TDRSS at the exact same time, indicating that they could have lost the ship
  • +1:05:50 Update: Call that they have lost the ship
  • Thanks to teams, Cameron County, FAA
  • Birthday celebration (22); Pi(e)-Day

Telemetry[]

IFT-3-B10-telemetry-imgur

Booster 10 speed and acceleration (c Imgur firstname_lastname)

IFT-1-2-3-falcon-B10-telemetry-speed-imgur

B10 speed comparison with IFT-1, IFT-3, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy (c Imgur firstname_lastname)

The following two images show graphs from the booster and ship telemetry data as collected by reddit user meithan.[19] According to meithan, the curves are really similar to flight test 2, except for the full-duration burn of the ship. The acceleration profile during first-stage flight is the same, also peculiar in that it's not an increasing ramp (as is usual for other launch vehicles as well as for second-stage here). This indicates that thrust is not held constant. Looks like they're throttling the engines gradually, perhaps to limit acceleration.[20]

IFT3 combined booster-c-meithan

Booster data (c meithan)

Meithan made a few notes to the booster data:[21]

  • The peak acceleration of the booster is higher during the boostback burn than before stage sep, since, I figure, it's much lighter.
  • It's also impressive how much velocity it sheds during the boostback burn (from about 1600 m/s to 250 m/s). Of course, this occurs at high altitude and it gains back a good fraction of this velocity by the subsequent fall to the surface.
  • The booster encounters a significantly higher dynamic pressure ("Q") on the way down, as it descends into higher density air. The fuselage (which is already much shorter, since it's only the booster) clearly can take the stress, and the grid fins (which are deployed way before this second max Q) make it very aerodynamically stable.
  • The last plot (Orbital Energy and Perigee) clearly show how little of the required orbital energy is imparted by the first stage—it's the second stage (not shown here) that does most of the work.
IFT3 combined ship-c-meithan

Ship data during ascent (c meithan)

Timeline of Announcements and Updates[]

13 March 2024[]

B10 and S28 transport stand left launch site at around 4:20 am.

Davenport: "Am told the FAA is still on track for a Thursday launch attempt, which I guess would mean the license would come today. Still seems very fluid, but we should find out soon enough. The weather also could be a factor in the timing of the flight."[22]

LR11000X was prepared to be laid down.

Evacuation notice posted for launch attempt on Thursday suggesting SpaceX are still working towards a launch on the 14th despite potenital FAA and weather concerns.[23]

OLM detonation suppression system was tested at 12:24.

FAA: Final findings about the environmental impact of Starship landing in the Indian Ocean issued. FONSI (Finding of no significant impact).[24][25]

SpaceX: "Targeting Thursday, March 14 for Starship’s third flight test. A 110-minute launch window opens at 7:00 a.m. CT → http://spacex.com/launches".[26]

FAA: Launch license issued (second revision of the 14 April 2023 license)[27]

B10 performed ignitor tests

S28 flap tests at 15:25; B10 gridfin tests at 16:02

12 March 2024[]

FAA: Expansion to NOTAM from yesterday issued.[28]

FAA: New NOTAM for Gulf of Mexico published for Thursday 14 March.[29]

OV-10 Squadron plane N16854 was spotted flying by the launch complex on Rover 2. OV-10 Squadron has helped provide range support for previous Starship launches.

Elon Musk: "Flight 3 end of week, pending weather".[30] He also hopes for 6 more flights in 2024.[31]

TFRs: TFRs issued for March 14 to March 15 for possible Starship flight operations; both for 11:50-14:31 UTC.[32][33]

NOAA: A filing for NOAA's GOES-East geostationary weather satellite to observe Starship IFT-3 has been filed within the last hour, with a window stretching from 7:00-9:00 AM CDT on March 14.[34]

11 March 2024[]

FAA: New re-entry and splashdown location issued, this time right off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.[35]

FAA: Marine warning issued for Indian Ocean; 14–18 March.

Cornwell: "Range security marine assets have started to chime into tracking services (for the first time since IFT-2) as SpaceX prepares for Starship flight 3."[35]

McDowell: "New Starship IFT-3 warning area [...] for Indian Ocean presumably indicates reentry area for a successful Raptor deorbit burn. Consistent with 100 m/s burn over Botswana reducing perigee from 50 km to -250 km."[36]

OLM scaffolding removed ahead of IFT-3

10 March 2024[]

Starship 10/28 restacked (#4)

Full duration flame deflector / deluge test performed at OLM.

Coast Guard: MSIB posted for 14–18 March, 7-11am.[37]

9 March 2024[]

Raptor stand returned to Sanchez site ahead of potential launch.

FAA: ATC Advisory active for 14 March launch window.[38]

S29's "remove before flight" taps for payload door were removed.

8 March 2024[]

On the 8th of March 2024, SpaceX began installing the explosives for the FTS. This is one of the last steps on the vehicles before launch.

7 March 2024[]

A NOTAM has been released for the Indian Ocean. This is for the splashdown area of S28 if it completes all its objectives.

Jonathan MDowell: Calculated trajectory for IFT-3 published.[39]

A Mexican NOTAM has been released.[40]

Road closures have been posted for flight activities. These are for the 14, 15 and 16 March from 12am to 2pm.[41]

6 March 2024[]

On the 6th of March 2024, SpaceX announced that they are targeting March 14 for the third flight of Starship, pending regulatory approval. They also updated their website to include this launch and a new timeline.

SpaceX: "Starship’s second flight test achieved a number of major milestones and provided invaluable data to continue rapidly developing Starship. Each of these flight tests continue to be just that: a test. They aren’t occurring in a lab or on a test stand, but are putting flight hardware in a flight environment to maximize learning.

The third flight test aims to build on what we’ve learned from previous flights while attempting a number of ambitious objectives, including the successful ascent burn of both stages, opening and closing Starship’s payload door, a propellant transfer demonstration during the upper stage’s coast phase, the first ever re-light of a Raptor engine while in space, and a controlled reentry of Starship. It will also fly a new trajectory, with Starship targeted to splashdown in the Indian Ocean. This new flight path enables us to attempt new techniques like in-space engine burns while maximizing public safety."[42][43]

Notice to Mariners for launch March 14 onwards (7-11am)[44]

Davenport: "The FAA is “very close” to approving the license modification for the third SpaceX Starship launch attempt, I'm told."[45]

Centering pins removed from OLM

5 March 2024[]

WB-57 placeholder dates for potential Starship IFT-3 imagery added for 14 March and onwards.[46]

On the 5th of March 2024, a livestream for Flight 3 of Starship was scheduled for the 14th of March at 7:00 AM local time on X.[47]

26 February 2024[]

On 26 February 2024, SpaceX and the FAA closed the mishap investigation for flight test 2. SpaceX has identified, and the FAA accepted, the root causes and 17 corrective actions in the mishap report. Seven corrective actions were identified for the booster including vehicle hardware redesigns, updated control system modelling, reevaluation of engine analyses based on OFT-2 flight data, and updated engine control algorithms. Ten corrective actions were identified for the ship including vehicle hardware redesigns, operational changes, flammability analysis updates, installation of additional fire protection, and guidance and modelling updates.[48]

Based on their findings, SpaceX had since implemented hardware changes inside future booster oxidizer tanks to improve propellant filtration capabilities and refined operations to increase reliability.[49]

12 February 2024[]

Elon Musk: "Starship were meant to fly and our next one launches in about 3 weeks, but I recommend waiting for a few more test flights before hopping on board"[50]

31 January 2024[]

Christian Davenport: "The FAA is on pace to issue a Starship launch license mid to late February, I’m told, in what is shaping up to be a busy month. Intuitive Machines plans to launch in time for a Feb. 22 lunar landing, which is the same day Crew-8 is scheduled to launch. Caveats about delays, etc."[51]

23 January 2024[]

FAA to Bruce Baur: An FAA spokesperson confirms that SpaceX has submitted its mishap investigation report for agency review. Flight 3 launch license modification is also in the works.[52]

12 January 2024[]

Elon Musk held a company talk at Starbase about everything SpaceX accomplished in 2023, and what the plans for 2024 are. Here is a summary for everything Starship and Flight 3 related.[53]

  • New Starship tower at Boca Chica confirmed. Will be used so SpaceX can upgrade the older tower.
  • Development plans are made for Starship to carry 200 tons of payload while fully reusable.
  • A new PEZ door design was shown in a new render.
  • Currently targeting the end of this year for first Starlink to launch on Starship
  • Ship to Ship refueling hopefully this year, probably next year.
  • Starship V2 will have performance upgrades.
  • Starship V3 will be stretched. Total stack will be 140–150 meters tall.
  • Ship 25 was lost during Flight 2 because of LOX venting which caused a fire.
  • Flight 3 will include a in-flight engine burn, a PEZ door demonstration and a header to main tank transfer.

9 January 2024[]

Jessica Jensen, Vice President of Customer Operations and Integration for SpaceX, gave an update about Starship Flight 3 in a NASA press conference for Artemis.[54]

  • Starship Flight 3 hardware will be ready in January and SpaceX expects an FAA license in February.
  • For the third test flight of Starship there will be a transfer test from the header tank to the main tank.
  • Current target for an HLS demo landing is 2025.
  • SpaceX estimates 10 launches are needed to fuel the HLS Starship.

21 December 2023[]

Video of Kathy Lueder's speech at the SpaceX Post Launch Conference has been released. With that we've been able to confirm and deny some facts from the news article:

  • SpaceX is indeed planning to add another Pad at Starbase.[55]
    • "Looking at adding another pad, because with the cadence we'd like to have getting that second pad ready was gonna be another goal we have for this year"
  • Kathy has not said that engine testing will be happening at Massey's, only that they're moving more of their testing there.[56]
    • "Using our Massey's test site [...] what it allows us to do is keep our test operations at the Massey's test site and away from the beach. [...] We're moving more of our testing over there"
  • Booster 9 RUD was, according to Kathy, a deliberate termination. RUD of Ship 25 was not mentioned.[57]
    • "After the second Starship flight we separated and then terminated the first stage"
  • SpaceX is submitting applications for Flight 3 & 4.[58]
    • "Submitting for our flight 3 and flight 4 applications"

13 December 2023[]

Kathy Lueders update in Brownsville:[59][60]

  • SpaceX is in the process of submitting flight approvals and amendments for flights #3 and #4
  • They will continue to monitor sound levels especially during low cloud cover and higher winds
  • Both Starship and Booster RUD likely due to AFTS and they are working on the mishap investigation to conclude why
  • Hoping to start catching boosters sometime in 2024
  • Confirmed plans of second tower at Starbase and moving engine testing to Massey
  • Planning for multiple flights in 2024
  • Says they are aiming for 1Q 2024 for IFT-3, says unlikely to achieve December despite Elon's aspirations

07 December 2023[]

SpaceX released the recap video and confirmed that Ship 28 and Booster 10 (Starship 10/28) will take flight on IFT-3.[61]

04 December 2023[]

Marcia Smith: "At the Natl Acad cmte meeting, NASA's Lakiesha Hawkins shows a slide that says SpaceX will do a propellant transfer demo on their next Starship test."[62]

19 November 2023[]

Elon Musk: "Starship Flight 3 hardware should be ready to fly in 3 to 4 weeks. There are three ships in final production in the high bay (as can be seen from the highway)."[63]

9 November 2023[]

The most recent FCC filling shows that SpaceX intends to launch IFT-3 to a 235 km apogee, and perform a powered landing of the Ship in the Indian Ocean, as opposed to the Pacific Ocean during IFT-1 and 2: "The Starship-Super Heavy test flight will originate from Starbase, TX. The booster stage will separate and will then perform a partial return and land in the Gulf of Mexico. The orbital Starship spacecraft will continue on its path to an altitude of approximately 235 km before performing a powered, targeted landing in the Indian Ocean."[64]

References[]

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  3. Christian Davenport: https://twitter.com/wapodavenport/status/1770082459998093419
  4. Christian Davenport: https://twitter.com/wapodavenport/status/1770086643329794101
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