Friday, May 7, 2021

Musk: “Might try to refly SN15 soon”

After becoming the first Starship prototype to survive its flight and landing, CEO Elon Musk delivered that message about SN15 in a tweet today.  

SpaceX has had a couple of days to go over the data from the mission, and the booster was moved some today, although not onto one of the test stands.  It's just standing there.  


Yesterday, SN15 was behind that nose cone test fixture just to its left.  The move was fast, as in a few minutes, and didn't involve a crane lifting it.  It's behind a different stand now, and farther back than it looks.

This morning, the Lab Padre guys got to get a bit closer than their robotic cameras and took this one.  If you look carefully, you can see a missing thermal tile on the lower left corner, near the left edge of the vehicle.  Also, the small patch of tiles a bit lower and in the middle of the body is missing a few. 

Since Starship is all about reusability, the idea of flying it again is compelling.  I balance that against the fact that SN16 is apparently done and could be moved to the pad at any time.  


  1. Some photos showed the landing legs distinctly wrinkled. That's going to need some attention. And are they really expecting a hard landing pad at Musk Station?

    1. I understand they're easy to swap out once it's supported. The chatter on one of the Lab Padre cameras was that they were swapped out already, but I don't see how they could have done that.

    2. They are held on by one pivoting hinge. A team of a few people could swap them out in less than an hour.

      Rumor has it that Musk intends to fly SN16 first, then re-fly SN15. They have two test launch pads now, so it's quite possible we could see two Starships sitting near each other, ready to go. That would be a nice photo, against a sunset.

    3. The Lab Padre blue box on the left says "Legs removed from SN15" so that's closer to official.

      FWIW, I don't know if SN16 matches 15 exactly or if they put in more design changes while 15 was out on the stand being tested. If so, I'd rather see them fly 16 first. I think it's pretty obvious that they should go to the upgraded legs on these, or work on burning the Raptors longer to get closer to zero vertical velocity on descent.

  2. It's much like looking at any given cover from a 1950's science fiction pulp magazine.

    The, "This is really cool!" numbers are off the scale.

  3. Replies
    1. They have been saying that for a few months, so it's a goal. Aspirational? Sure. Elon Standard Time? Undoubtedly.