On November 18, SpaceX’s Starship rocket undertook its second-ever launch from the Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Despite the Super Heavy booster’s explosion post-stage separation, SpaceX considered the test flight a success, emphasizing the flawless ignition of all 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy Booster. This marked the first time they completed a full-duration burn during ascent, showcasing a significant achievement.
The upper-stage Starship soared to an impressive altitude of 91 miles (148 kilometers), surpassing the 62-mile (100 km) boundary of space before encountering a “rapid unscheduled disassembly.” Despite this unexpected turn, SpaceX maintains a positive outlook on the overall success of the test.
While enthusiasts in Boca Chica documented the event, Scott Ferguson of Astronomy Live took a unique approach. Positioned in the Florida Keys’ village of Islamorada, Ferguson utilized a telescope to capture a stunning view of Starship’s upper stage during its suborbital space explosion. Ferguson’s meticulous planning, including the development of a program to predict rocket trajectories, paid off as he synchronized the telescope’s tracking with the launch moment.
Despite the explosion, Ferguson’s footage revealed a surprisingly intact front nose section and forward flaps as Starship spun out of control. SpaceX has recognized the value of his unique perspective, requesting the video for further analysis, highlighting the importance of diverse viewpoints in documenting space events.