Poll

When do you think IFT-3 will launch?

December '23
13 (6.7%)
January '24
49 (25.4%)
February '24
91 (47.2%)
March '24
26 (13.5%)
April '24
12 (6.2%)
May '24
0 (0%)
June '24
0 (0%)
Next year, but after June
0 (0%)
2025 or later
1 (0.5%)
I have no opinion
1 (0.5%)

Total Members Voted: 193


Author Topic: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?  (Read 9928 times)

Offline Metalskin

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SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« on: 11/20/2023 08:42 pm »
Elon Musk's has stated via Twitter that the hardware for IFT-3 is three to four weeks away from being ready (note this just means the hardware is ready, not launch date).

Quote
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1726422074254578012

Taking into account Herb's nicely written statement of factors that will impact timing of the next launch attempt, when do you think the next launch (IFT-3) will occur?

Remember “Elon time” is at play. There is a mandatory Mishap Investigation that is required after IFT-2 and until SpaceX completes and submits that report, and the FAA reviews data from that report as well as the post-launch inspections and water quality reports required by the existing launch license, IFT-3 is on hold.’

Even aside from the reporting and regulatory aspects, the OLM, tower and tank farm complex need to be inspected and any repairs made; the deluge system probably needs to be pressure tested and maybe flow-tested as well to confirm it held up with no repair necessary; and the deluge and propellant tanks need to be replenished. After all that is done, then the next Booster (10?) and Ship both need static fire campaigns, plus any ancillary servicing (grid fin actuators, TPS tile tests/repairs, potentially engine swaps …).
...

-- edited to clarify some of the statements, formatting
« Last Edit: 11/20/2023 09:12 pm by Metalskin »
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Online KilroySmith

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #1 on: 11/20/2023 09:04 pm »
Elon's 3-4 weeks is when he thinks the hardware will be ready.  He didn't say a word about when the mishap investigation will be over, or when the FAA license will issue, or what'll happen if they find they need to make significant changes. 

So, not a referendum on Elon time, just a referendum on when everything will align.

Offline steveleach

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #2 on: 11/20/2023 09:06 pm »
Elon's 3-4 weeks is when he thinks the hardware will be ready.  He didn't say a word about when the mishap investigation will be over, or when the FAA license will issue, or what'll happen if they find they need to make significant changes. 

So, not a referendum on Elon time, just a referendum on when everything will align.
If the FTS on both booster and ship worked as planned, and the debris stayed in the correct zone, is there a reason why the mishap investigation and license process needs to be more than a formality?

Offline JAFO

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #3 on: 11/20/2023 09:07 pm »
Is this what the forum really thinks of Elon's 3-4 weeks estimate?
I voted on a launch date, not on a hardware ready date. Or are you talking about some  other Elon quote than the one in the OP?
Bad joke, removed by me.

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Offline Barley

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #4 on: 11/20/2023 09:08 pm »
If they change the name to AFT-Alpha is it still IFT-3?

The IFT naming convention has been used for almost a year, long overdue for a change.

Offline sdsds

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #5 on: 11/20/2023 09:18 pm »
My spreadsheet gives a predicted IFT-3 launch on Mar 3, 2024, but I voted February 2024 anyway. Paint me ... optimistic. ;)
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Offline AmigaClone

Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #6 on: 11/20/2023 09:27 pm »
Elon's 3-4 weeks is when he thinks the hardware will be ready.  He didn't say a word about when the mishap investigation will be over, or when the FAA license will issue, or what'll happen if they find they need to make significant changes. 

So, not a referendum on Elon time, just a referendum on when everything will align.

I voted for a March '24 launch date based on a coin flip between February and March. Granted, I suspect the hardware would be ready for at least testing before the end of the year.

If they change the name to AFT-Alpha is it still IFT-3?

The IFT naming convention has been used for almost a year, long overdue for a change.

Personally, I would not mind the IFT naming convention remaining until Starship is declared operational.

Offline Metalskin

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #7 on: 11/20/2023 09:43 pm »
Thank you to the mod/admin who moved this to the poll section. My apologies, I didn't realise that there is a separate poll section ;-)
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Offline sdsds

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #8 on: 11/20/2023 09:45 pm »
I would not mind the IFT naming convention remaining until Starship is declared operational.

I predict a naming convention change when SpaceX attempts an "Orbital Flight Test."
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Offline tyrred

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #9 on: 11/20/2023 10:07 pm »
I would have voted for January, but it's not on the list  :P

Offline trimeta

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #10 on: 11/20/2023 11:30 pm »
Elon's 3-4 weeks is when he thinks the hardware will be ready.  He didn't say a word about when the mishap investigation will be over, or when the FAA license will issue, or what'll happen if they find they need to make significant changes. 

So, not a referendum on Elon time, just a referendum on when everything will align.
If the FTS on both booster and ship worked as planned, and the debris stayed in the correct zone, is there a reason why the mishap investigation and license process needs to be more than a formality?
Presumably, SpaceX will want to perform a thorough mishap investigation so they understand what went wrong on IFT-2 and how to fix those issues so they don't recur on IFT-3.

Offline Metalskin

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #11 on: 11/20/2023 11:58 pm »
I would have voted for January, but it's not on the list  :P

Ahh bugger, I always misspell January. Thank you for the funny heads up.

Fixed.
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Offline DistantTemple

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #12 on: 11/21/2023 01:39 am »
Voted optimistically for December 2023! Likely the run up to the new year!
That is just a valid x2 translation of Elon time. 6 weeks from Sunday the 19th November to Sunday 31st December. EM X'd 3 to 4 weeks. 3 x 2 = 6
The mishap investigation may make a mockery of this. However if SX has evidence and understanding of the causes of not meeting the planned flightplan, and good mitigations.... can we hope it might be quick?


« Last Edit: 11/21/2023 01:40 am by DistantTemple »
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Offline deltaV

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #13 on: 11/21/2023 02:31 pm »
I voted February but any time in Q1 seems very plausible to me.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #14 on: 11/21/2023 02:38 pm »
I voted for December '23 because I'm a wild-eyed optimist.  I think pad, SH, and SS will all be ready, and there is a reasonable chance of the mishap investigation being completed. One big question is whether or not SpaceX wants to launch before making any additional hardware changes to SH or SS.

If the 5/yr launch limit is based on a calendar year, a launch in December is "free", and they may as well take it using existing hardware.

Offline eeergo

Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #15 on: 11/21/2023 04:03 pm »
Voted March as a NET with lots of technical and regulatory uncertainties acting on it. Caveat that it can easily slip to the right as per the latest flight's experience - more so based on the first test flights, but I expect the major -and much needed- improvements in infrastructure to play a significant role now. Very unlikely to the left IMO, although institutional (and specifically NASA) pressure has worked its magic once already, and quite publicly so, so now it's not just internal SpaceX interests that drive the program forward, at least short-term.

Source: got a 2/2 track record in prior flight polls, nailed to within very close accuracy, plus repeated correct foresights regardimg Boca Chica tests before full stacks were a thing. Nobody's crystal ball is perfect though, that's for sure.

Not a source: Musk's tweets get less factual on average as a function of calendar time (very much not limited to rockets, but most of us know that already). Willing to bet my car on no further flights in 2023.

Offline Metalskin

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #16 on: 11/21/2023 08:18 pm »
Voted March as a NET with lots of technical and regulatory uncertainties acting on it. Caveat that it can easily slip to the right as per the latest flight's experience - more so based on the first test flights, but I expect the major -and much needed- improvements in infrastructure to play a significant role now. Very unlikely to the left IMO, although institutional (and specifically NASA) pressure has worked its magic once already, and quite publicly so, so now it's not just internal SpaceX interests that drive the program forward, at least short-term.

Source: got a 2/2 track record in prior flight polls, nailed to within very close accuracy, plus repeated correct foresights regardimg Boca Chica tests before full stacks were a thing. Nobody's crystal ball is perfect though, that's for sure.

Not a source: Musk's tweets get less factual on average as a function of calendar time (very much not limited to rockets, but most of us know that already). Willing to bet my car on no further flights in 2023.

I used similar rationale to vote April. I hope that I am wrong and that it occurs sooner. However once burnt, twice shy (I was too optimistic for IFT-2).

edit: spelling ;-)
« Last Edit: 11/22/2023 05:51 am by Metalskin »
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Offline Rebel44

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #17 on: 11/22/2023 05:22 am »
Given the need to finish the investigation and have the FAA approve the conclusions and for SpaceX to implement changes, plus inevitable paperwork delays (from SpaceX's POV), my guess is early February 2024.

Offline Mark S

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #18 on: 11/22/2023 10:23 am »
It's "Elon time". Just change weeks to months and you should be good.

Being a naive optimist, I voted NET March '24 instead of May. If it ends up during Spring Break, so much the better. Maybe I'll drive down to SPI and watch. The launch, of course. Watch the launch.


Offline c4fusion

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #19 on: 11/23/2023 09:19 pm »
Because this Flight went so much better than the first flight and there isn't a big hole in the ground, I expect that the time taken to be about half so landing us in sometime between end of February and beginning of March.  Thus, I just went optimistic and picked February.

Offline ugordan

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #20 on: 11/23/2023 09:38 pm »
I voted Feb '24.

My uniformed reckon tells me that the reason for AFTS activation on SS will be a "simpler" problem to fix than the RUD of the booster. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that the next SH booster will experience the same fate because it'd require significant mods to fix all the findings, but booster 10 is too far along to make those changes so SpaceX is just gonna YOLO it again. I have greater hopes for the ship, that is, if the Raptors overall behave as well as they did on IFT-2

Offline Craigles

Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #21 on: 11/24/2023 05:05 am »
I don't yet understand the root cause of the November 2023 SS flight termination, and what improvements are smart requirements to reach the (orbital) trajectory. Can some of us explain why these requirements are trivial?

If these IFT-3 requirements are trivial then January's possible.
Else it's NET March.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2023 05:12 am by Craigles »
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Offline catdlr

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #22 on: 11/24/2023 05:38 am »
I don't yet understand the root cause of the November 2023 SS flight termination, and what improvements are smart requirements to reach the (orbital) trajectory. Can some of us explain why these requirements are trivial?

If these IFT-3 requirements are trivial then January's possible.
Else it's NET March.

Happy Thanksgiving, I hope your dinner, friends, and family were great.

There are many people interested in the topic being discussed. In fact, there are several intense discussions in this forum where engineers are sharing their thoughts on the cause and effect. However, SpaceX currently holds the flight data and is analyzing the findings. Once this is done, they will be required to report their findings to the FAA and NASA. If Elon Musk decides to share the information with the public, we will know more. Until then, we can only speculate and wait.

Best,
Tony

Here are the set threads on this subject.

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=59871.0

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=59110.msg2542314#msg2542314

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=59870.msg2543056#msg2543056
« Last Edit: 11/24/2023 06:25 am by catdlr »
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Offline DeimosDream

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #23 on: 11/24/2023 03:55 pm »
January to be optimistic although a slip to February wouldn't be surprising.

Rocket Lab plans to return to flight after only 2-months and some change. With negligible pad damage and a fail-early test plan I expect IFT-3 will be closer to that than F9's 6-month return to flight.

Offline trimeta

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #24 on: 11/24/2023 06:22 pm »
January to be optimistic although a slip to February wouldn't be surprising.

Rocket Lab plans to return to flight after only 2-months and some change. With negligible pad damage and a fail-early test plan I expect IFT-3 will be closer to that than F9's 6-month return to flight.
It all comes down to how quickly SpaceX can discover the root cause of IFT-2's upper-stage failure and implement fixes to mitigate it: I think that will be the pacing item for IFT-3, not permits or ground infrastructure. I haven't read those threads linked above, so I don't know how optimistic people are that SpaceX has the data (and information) needed to understand and overcome whatever led to the seemingly-random flight termination of Starship on IFT-2, but I chose to be optimistic and vote for February.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #25 on: 11/24/2023 07:19 pm »
January to be optimistic although a slip to February wouldn't be surprising.

Rocket Lab plans to return to flight after only 2-months and some change. With negligible pad damage and a fail-early test plan I expect IFT-3 will be closer to that than F9's 6-month return to flight.
It all comes down to how quickly SpaceX can discover the root cause of IFT-2's upper-stage failure and implement fixes to mitigate it: I think that will be the pacing item for IFT-3, not permits or ground infrastructure. I haven't read those threads linked above, so I don't know how optimistic people are that SpaceX has the data (and information) needed to understand and overcome whatever led to the seemingly-random flight termination of Starship on IFT-2, but I chose to be optimistic and vote for February.
There is a possible dependency of the License delay on the complexity of the cause and SpaceX' proposed mitigations, if any. FAA's oversight of SpaceX' mishap investigation probably means they can issue the license quickly because they already know what the report is going to say, but The time needed for due diligence increases with the complexity of the report. So, in the best possible ideal case, SpaceX analyzes the problem in a day or two, comes up with a software fix and implements it in a week, and submits their report, FAA signs off, and SpaceX applies for a launch license as soon as the new stack completes its WDR.  Of course, reality will almost certainly be longer than that. I think the highest probability is that the SH mishap and the SS mishap must be analyzed separately and that at least one of them is at least somewhat complicated.

Offline trimeta

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #26 on: 11/24/2023 07:57 pm »
January to be optimistic although a slip to February wouldn't be surprising.

Rocket Lab plans to return to flight after only 2-months and some change. With negligible pad damage and a fail-early test plan I expect IFT-3 will be closer to that than F9's 6-month return to flight.
It all comes down to how quickly SpaceX can discover the root cause of IFT-2's upper-stage failure and implement fixes to mitigate it: I think that will be the pacing item for IFT-3, not permits or ground infrastructure. I haven't read those threads linked above, so I don't know how optimistic people are that SpaceX has the data (and information) needed to understand and overcome whatever led to the seemingly-random flight termination of Starship on IFT-2, but I chose to be optimistic and vote for February.
There is a possible dependency of the License delay on the complexity of the cause and SpaceX' proposed mitigations, if any. FAA's oversight of SpaceX' mishap investigation probably means they can issue the license quickly because they already know what the report is going to say, but The time needed for due diligence increases with the complexity of the report. So, in the best possible ideal case, SpaceX analyzes the problem in a day or two, comes up with a software fix and implements it in a week, and submits their report, FAA signs off, and SpaceX applies for a launch license as soon as the new stack completes its WDR.  Of course, reality will almost certainly be longer than that. I think the highest probability is that the SH mishap and the SS mishap must be analyzed separately and that at least one of them is at least somewhat complicated.
My general assumption is that the FAA will be sufficiently integrated into SpaceX's mishap investigation team that when SpaceX is confident they understand the cause of and solution to the mishap, they can relay this confidence to the FAA pretty much immediately. So there wouldn't be any extra time to talk the FAA into granting them a license, since the mishap investigation itself is also the mechanism by which SpaceX will be granted a new license.

There is one wrinkle, though: if the issue with SH is more challenging than the one with SS, SpaceX may want to launch without fixing the SH issues, basically saying "we know it'll explode shortly after hot staging, but we want the data on our fixes to SS sooner, before we've fully resolved the SH issues." I don't know how the FAA would feel about such a plan. Of course, in a non-SpaceX launch, the booster blowing up some time after staging is nominal, so would it make sense to forbid a SpaceX launch where that's the expected outcome? Perhaps the FAA would demand that SpaceX not attempt the relight and kick-flip, but instead put "activate SH FTS once SS has gotten far enough away" into the flight plan, if they're not going to fix the issues which occurred during IFT-2.

Offline Metalskin

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #27 on: 12/06/2023 10:27 pm »
Hmm, the pace of things makes me think I was a little harsh in my estimate. But I will be very happy to lose :-)
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Offline sdsds

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #28 on: 01/09/2024 08:06 pm »
[...] twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1744801160777638265

Quote
Jessica Jensen of SpaceX says that hardware for Starship flight three will be ready in January, and that the company expects to receive an FAA license in February.

This year a February 28 licensing approval would allow a February 29 launch!
— 𝐬𝐝𝐒𝐝𝐬 —

Offline eeergo

Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #29 on: 02/13/2024 07:37 am »
Voted March as a NET with lots of technical and regulatory uncertainties acting on it. [...]

Source: got a 2/2 track record in prior flight polls, nailed to within very close accuracy, plus repeated correct foresights regarding Boca Chica tests before full stacks were a thing. Nobody's crystal ball is perfect though, that's for sure.

Not a source: Musk's tweets get less factual on average as a function of calendar time (very much not limited to rockets, but most of us know that already). Willing to bet my car on no further flights in 2023.

And with Musk's recent tweet, the result is official beyond reasonable doubt: the distribution's peak is (once again) too optimistic wrt the actual launch date. In fact, the vast majority of voters (82%) were, with the "Gaussian" bell skewed towards earlier dates.

Furthermore, while the first two flights had a lot of regulatory drama around them since early on, in spite of it becoming clear after the fact that they weren't a major schedule driver, this one does not. Of course, that may still factor in as the launch draws nearer. And obviously, the interval between the 2nd and this 3rd flight will most likely be significantly shorter than between the 1st and 2nd.

On other news, I retain my car's ownership, and untainted performance in these polls.
-DaviD-

Offline laszlo

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Re: SpaceX Starship IFT-3 : When will it launch?
« Reply #30 on: 02/13/2024 06:51 pm »
The 9th option is for the people who understand why it's really called the 10/28 flight  ;)

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