SpaceX’s second Starship launch scheduled for 17 November

Friday (Nov. 17) is shaping up to be an exciting day for space fans.

SpaceX plans to launch the second-ever test flight of its giant Starship rocket on Friday from Starbase, the company’s facility in far southern Texas. Liftoff is scheduled to occur during a two-hour window that opens at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT), and you can watch all the action here at

But just what will that action entail? Read on for a short explainer of this highly anticipated mission. 

The show will begin at 7:30 a.m. EST (1230 GMT), the time SpaceX plans to start its launch webcast. About 10 minutes later, Starship’s 39 Raptor engines — 33 on the Super Heavy first stage and six on the upper-stage spacecraft, known as Starship — will begin to chill ahead of ignition, according to SpaceX’s mission description.

Ten seconds before launch, SpaceX will activate the water deluge system beneath Starbase’s orbital launch mount. This piece of equipment — a reinforced, water-spraying steel plate — is designed to dampen the power of Super Heavy’s 33 Raptors, protecting the launch mount and surrounding infrastructure.

That power was on full display during Starship’s first (and so far only) test flight, which occurred on April 20. Super Heavy’s Raptors blasted out a crater beneath the launch mount that day, sending chunks of concrete and other debris flying high into the South Texas sky.

The April 20 flight aimed to send the upper stage partway around Earth, with a splashdown targeted in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. That didn’t happen, however; Starship’s two stages failed to separate, and SpaceX detonated the vehicle intentionally four minutes after liftoff.

Friday’s flight has the same basic goals as the April 20 jaunt. If all goes according to plan, Starship’s two stages will separate two minutes and 41 seconds after liftoff. This will be accomplished via “hot staging,” in which the upper stage engines begin firing shortly before separation. That’s a change from the first launch, which employed a traditional staging strategy.

Super Heavy will perform several engine burns over the next few minutes, steering itself toward a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico around seven minutes after liftoff.

The Starship upper stage, meanwhile, will continue powering its way upward and eastward, reaching a top speed close to orbital velocity (which is around 17,000 mph, or 27,400 kph). But the vehicle won’t complete a circuit of Earth; roughly 90 minutes after liftoff, it will come down in the Pacific near Hawaii for “an exciting landing,” SpaceX’s mission description states.

Both Starship stages are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable, but Friday’s flight will be the only mission for these particular pieces of hardware. SpaceX’s mission description shows both stages coming down directly into the sea, not on a drone ship, as the first stages of the company’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets commonly do.

Whatever happens on Friday — complete success, total failure or (most likely) something in between — expect another Starship launch in the not-too-distant future. SpaceX is working on multiple Starship vehicles at the moment, and it plans to learn from the flights of all of them.

Comment: SpaceX just announced they will destack the Starship to replace a faulty actuator. They’ve added 24 hours to the launch time. Launch is now scheduled for Saturday morning.


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11 Responses to SpaceX’s second Starship launch scheduled for 17 November

  1. leith says:

    SpaceX has had previous problems with actuators. Not just on the Starship. Not clear what the reasons are?

  2. F&L says:

    Starship exploded.

    What’s the morning line on it being destroyed because the Zionist Biden administration doesn’t like Elon Musk’s recent approval of certain tweets on X?

    • ked says:

      hahaha – you’re an easy mark, F&L. production quality heavy lift spacecraft is a tough biz. only the US Saturn program showed that capability. & anyway, Musk has proven skilled at blowing up his fortune & future w/o help from the WH at this stage in his own personal Ayn Rand fantasy.

  3. TTG says:

    They got a lot further this time. The heavy booster exploded spectacularly but only after the separation. I was surprised the starship survived that and kept going for a few more minutes until it apparently went into self-destruct. It was a hell of a show. Maybe the next one will reach orbit. I’m waiting to see a successful reentry. Here’s the SpaceX broadcast of the launch.

    • jld says:

      @TTG + F&L

      If I may correct you, It didn’t explode it suffered “rapid unscheduled disassembly,”. 🙂

      • TTG says:


        I got a kick out of that turn of phrase. Judging by how serious the SpaceX announcers were when they repeatedly used the phrase, I gather it’s an accepted and common turn of phrase in the aerospace world. I’ve only heard it used to describe Russian T-72s as they enter the turret toss competition.

  4. walrus says:

    The launch up to first stage cutoff and separation was just spectacular

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