While it's just over 36 hours since the test flight 2 launch Saturday morning as I write, and it's a weekend night which means official news is going to be few and far between. I suspect that like many of you, I've been trying to find anything that looks to be realistic and reasonably coherent about the details of what is known about test flight 2.
Some of what's presented here will be reposts of things I've posted before. The first is this: among the first questions people started asking was if the new water deluge system saved the orbital launch pad. By mid-afternoon Saturday, Elon Musk was saying they had driven out to the launch pad and there was no damage worth mentioning. Tweeted here. Jack Beyer, Content Manager and photographer for NASA Spaceflight tweeted essentially the same thing, adding something like, "now that's a rapidly reusable launch pad!"
The loss of the booster after it's actual flight performance, which was
insanely better than the first flight test, gets talked about a lot. I
think minimizing the booster's performance over that is mistaken. It's important to recognize that SpaceX had never before successfully ignited all 33 Raptor engines at once on a Super Heavy booster stage. All 33 lit and stayed lit for the entire duration, while producing the largest mach diamond ever seen (it is the largest vehicle ever launched, after all).
The interesting thing about the hot staging that I didn't see talk of until this afternoon shows up in this SpaceX video. You can watch the three sea-level Raptors carefully, the innermost three, and see that when you can first see all three, 11 seconds on the clock, they're all pointed as far away from center as they get. By the 14 second mark they're all pointed on axis, to maximize thrust, which is no longer pointed at the top of the booster. I created this image from video frame captures to show what I mean.
You can clearly see the three flames are much farther apart on the left, at about 11 seconds, than on the right, which was closer to 14 seconds. That seems intended to minimize the amount of time the engines are blasting the top of the booster. The booster was lost several seconds after this.
Something that I've seen little mention of is analysis of just what happened to Ship 25. A video I saw on Saturday implied that it must have been down range quite some distance, and since we had a good idea of its altitude, they had derived that it must have been in Atlantic, after having flown over the Florida Straits between the Keys and Cuba. Astronomer Jonathon McDowell posted this to X Saturday morning ET. A NOAA weather radar detected the debris from Ship 25 falling along its trajectory into the Atlantic.
The longitude and latitude markers along the edges of the picture allow me to pin point this location on a hurricane tracking map. At the bottom left of the picture, there's a land area with what appears to be light rain, or possibly clutter, over its eastern side. That land mass is Puerto Rico.
There is talk about a picture that shows the nose of Ship25 from the top down to the bottom of the first two flaps, that somehow survived whatever happened, but I haven't found that picture. Yet. Hopefully, SpaceX downloaded telemetry that allows them to reconstruct the story.