SpaceX Starship III sequence of events (IFT-3)

SpaceX Starship I sequence of events (IFT-3)

SpaceX Starship III sequence of events (IFT-3)

Mission Flight test #III: B10/S28 (IFT-3, Starship Flight 3)

Starship progress

Mission IFT-3

  • The third flight test of a fully integrated Starship.
  • Integrated Test Flight IFT-3 (OFT-3).
  • Expected: March 2024.
  • Launch date: 14-03-2024 (NET).

Scheduled IFT-3

  • 14-03-2024 launch (NET).

Updates IFT-3

  • Electronic Thrust Vector Control (TVC): An advanced system for precise control of the rocket’s path
  • Upgraded Flight Termination System (FTS): Enhanced safety measures for mission termination if necessary.
  • Propellant Transfer Demonstration: A key feature for the HLS, involving transfer from a header tank to a main tank in microgravity.
  • Launch Pad Improvements. Addition of a water-cooled steel plate for thermal protection and sound dampening. Improvements to the OLM, Orbital Launch Module, and “Mechazzilla,” the chopstick arms used to stack Starship on the Booster.

Flight objectives IFT-3

  • Ascent burn of both stages. Controlled ascent.
  • Opening and closing Starship’s payload door.
  • Propellant transfer demonstration during the upper stage’s coast phase.
  • Orbital insertion.
  • Controlled reentry of Starship.
  • New trajectory, with Starship targeted to splashdown in the Indian Ocean. This new flight path enables the team to attempt new techniques like in-space engine burns while maximizing public safety.
  • First re-light of a Raptor engine while in space.

Configuration IFT-3

  • Super Heavy 10, Booster 10 (B10).
  • Starship SN28 (S28).
IFT-3 configuration
Configuration IFT-3

Launch location IFT-3

Launch preparations IFT-3


  • 00-00-0000 Spin Prime Test (SPTB) Booster. Not performed.
  • 00-00-0000 Static Fire (SFB) Booster. All engines.
  • 00-00-0000 Flight Termination System (FTS) installed on Booster.
  • 00-00-0000 Testing grid fins Booster.


  • 16-12-2023 Spin Prime Test 1 (SPTS-1) Starship. 6 engines
  • 00-00-0000 Spin Prime Test 2 (SPTS-2) Starship. After engine replacement with 2 or 3 engines.
  • 00-00-0000 Static Fire (SFS-1) Starship. 6 engines.
  • 00-00-0000 Static Fire (SFS-2) Starship. 1 engine.
  • 08-03-2024 Flight Termination System (FTS) explosives installed on Starship.


  • 14-02-2024 WDRFS. Aborted 1.
  • 16-02-2024 WDRFS. Aborted 2.
  • 03-03-2024 Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDRFS) full-stack (B10 and S28).
  • 10-03-2024 B10 and S28 re-stacked (NET -93:00:00 or 10:00:00 am CDT).
  • 10-03-2024 Ship Quick Disconnect (SQD) attached to S28.
  • 10-03-2024 Full duration test of flame deflector.


  • 00-00-0000 Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) License issued.
  • 00-00-0000 FAA Launch Site Safety Assessment (LSSA). 
  • 00-00-0000 FAA Launch Readiness Assessment (LRA).
  • 13-03-2024 FAA Launch License issued.


  • 14-03-2024 Launch window 1.

Administration for Launch window 1

  • 26-02-2024 FAA statement Closure of mishap investigation Starship Super Heavy Orbital Test Flight 2 (OFT-2) on 18-11-2023. FAA accepted 17 corrective actions.
  • 05-03-2024 Spacex announced livestream 14-03-2024 for 0700 am local.
  • 06-03-2024 SpaceX announced targeting 14-03-2024 (NET). Pending regulatory approval.
  • 07-03-2024 Road closures posted for flight activities. Boca Chica Beach and State HWY 4 (Starbase) issued for:
      • 11-03-2024 8 am to 9 pm CST
      • 14-03-2024 12 am to 2 pm CST
      • 15-03-2024 12 am to 2 pm CST
      • 16-03-2024 12 am to 2 pm CST
  • 07-03-2024 NOTAM USA (launch).
  • 07-03-2024 NOTAM Mexico (launch).
  • 07-03-2024 NOTAM Madagascar (succesful Raptor restart).
  • 07-03-2024 NOTAM Mauritius (succesful Raptor restart).
  • 07-03-2024 NOTAM Australia (unsuccesful Raptor restart).
  • 10-03-2024 Full speed retraction test on SQD followed by reconnect.
  • 11-03-2024 USA notice Marine hazard issued for 14-03-2024.
  • 11-03-2024 Possible weather related details

Timezones 14-03-2024 IFT-3

  • Time, clock, zones
  • CDT = CST
    • + 1 hour
  • EDT = EST
    • +4 hours
  • UTC = GMT = Zulu
    • +1 hour
  • CET (wintertime)

Launch windows Boca Chica IFT-3

  • Launch window 1 14-03-2024: Open 12:00 Zulu, Closed 14:31 Zulu. (Th)
  • Launch window 2 15-03-2024: Open 12:00 Zulu, Closed 14:31 Zulu. (Fr)
  • Launch window 3 16-03-2024: Open 12:00 Zulu, Closed 13:01 Zulu. (Sa)
  • Launch window 4 17-03-2024: Open 12:00 Zulu, Closed 13:01 Zulu. (Su)
  • Launch window 5 18-03-2024: Open 12:00 Zulu, Closed 14:31 Zulu. (Mo)

Launch window 1 details IFT-3

TimezoneGo for propellant load
(75 mins to Open)
(30 mins to Open)
Window Open

Window Closed


5.45 am

6.30 am

7.00 am

9.31 am


6.45 am7.30 am8.00 am10.31 am
UTC = GMT = Zulu10:4511:3012:0014:31

CET (winter)


Weather forecast IFT-3

  • Boca Chica:
    • Brownsville
    • Forecast
      • 13-03-2024 for Window 1 (14-03-2024): Marginal (wind profile and clouds).
      • 13-03-2024 for Window 2 (15-03-2024): Preferable.
      • T-01:45:00 Final Weather Go/NoGo
  • Gulf of Mexico: Radar
  • East Indian Ocean: Indian Ocean
  • Pacific Ocean (not for IFT-3): Pacific Ocean
  • USA: Map

Targeted launch time IFT-3

  • 07.30 am CST Weather 70% favorable. + 00:32:00.
  • 08.02 am CST Marine fog wil not clear, multible balloons in the air, in upper levelsincrease of windshear. +00:08:00.
  • 08.10 am CST Eight more minutes for leaving of boats. Weather is getting better. +00:15:00.
  • 08.25 am CST Go for propellant load. 30 min margin left.


*** Beyond this point all times are indicated in T-Time: ***

  • T+ (countdown clock)
  • T-0 (T-zero, launch, start mission clock)
  • T- (mission clock)

T-07:00:00 IFT-3

  • T-07:00:00 Start countdown clock.
  • T-07:00:00 Road closure window opens (evacuation zone).
  • T-04:00:00 Tank farm chilldown. Pope stick vent.
  • T-04:00:00 Chopsticks opened.
  • T-03:00:00 Pad clear. 
  • T-02:20:00 OLM vent starts.
  • T-02:10:00 First tower vent.
  • T-02:00:00 Range is Go.
  • T-02:00:00 Vehicle is Go.
  • T-02:00:00 Payload is Go.

T-01:45:00 IFT-3


Weather balloon wind IFT-3 14-03-2024 T-00:49:00
Weather balloon wind IFT-3 14-03-2024 T-00:49:00

T-01:30:00 IFT-3

Propellant loading

  • T-00:53:00 until T-00:02:50
      • Expected speed propellant load:
      • Density liquid Methane: 0.422 kg/L (upper tanks).
      • Density liquid Oxygen: 1.141 kg/L (lower tanks).
      • Total: 4,600 t (4,600,000 kg).
      • 115 t/min (1,92 t/sec).
      • Loading in 40 min.
Propellant load progress IFT-3 T-001900
T-00:18:47 Propellant load progress IFT-3

T-01:15:00 until T-00:00:00 IFT-3

T-01:15:00SpaceX Flight Director conducts poll and verifies GO for propellant load

Ship LOX (liquid oxygen) load underway

Actual: T-00:50:00 Tower venting stopped.

Actual: T-00:50:00 Start propellant load (confirmed).


Ship fuel (liquid methane) load underway

Actual: T-0043:00 First frost ring.

T-00:42:00Booster LOX load underway
Booster fuel load underway
Start SpaceX coverage (new tab)
T-00:19:40Raptor begins engine chill on booster and ship
T-00:03:30Booster propellant load complete
T-00:02:50Ship propellant load complete

SpaceX flight director verifies GO for launch

Actual: T-00:00:40 hold not needed.

Actual: On time

T-00:00:10Flame deflector activation (water deluge)
T-00:00:03Raptor ignition sequence begins
T-00:00:00Engines start (start mission clock)

Trajectory planned (scheme) IFT-3

IFT-3 Trajectory
IFT-3 Trajectory

Trajectory planned globe (scheme) IFT-3

Trajectory IFT-3 Earth globe 1
Trajectory IFT-3 Earth globe 1
Trajectory IFT-3 Earth globe 2
Trajectory IFT-3 Earth globe 2

T+00:00:02 IFT-3

T+00:00:52Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
T+00:02:42Booster MECO (most engines cut off)
T+00:02:44Hot-staging (Starship Raptor ignition and stage separation)
T+00:02:55Booster boostback burn startup
T+00:03:50Booster boostback burn shutdown
T+00:06:36Booster is transonic
T+00:06:46Booster landing burn startup
T+00:07:04Booster landing burn shutdown
T+00:08:35Starship engine cutoff
T+00:11:56Payload door open
Actual T+0011:53 Acquisition of signal from Puero Rico.
Actual T+00:13:00 Speed 26327 km/h, altitude 188 km (coastal phase).
T+00:24:31Propellant transfer demo
T+00:28:21Payload door close

Raptor in-space relight demo

Actual T+00:40:00 Raptor in-space relight demo skipped (no de-orbit burn).

Actual T+00:43:00 Video from a flap (tiles getting off?). 18.000 tiles.
Actual T+00:45:00 Entry (view on plasma field).
Actual T+00:48:42 Loss of signal.
Actual T+00:48:42 Speed 26180 km/h, altitude 65 km. Blackout period.

T+00:49:05Starship entry
Actual T+00:52:00 Speed 25707 km/h, altitude 65 km. No updates. Starlink lost, no data, shipped lost on re-entry. Highest teentry speed for SpaceX.
T+01:02:16Starship is transonic
T+01:03:04Starship is subsonic
Actual T+01:03:50 Starship lost.
Actual No soft landing by Booster or Starship.

Live streams IFT-3

Telemetry first 10 minutes (actual trajectory profile) IFT-3

T+00:02:30335001575001570T+00:02:49 Hot staging
T+00:03:30132140976598976T+00:03:40 Boostback burn
T+00:06:300421419145491436Landing burn, 1 engine (462 km)
T+00:07:30   196021446 
T+00:08:00   231421456 
T+00:08:30   261891493T+00:08:23 3 engines shutoff
T+00:09:00   264731530 
T+00:09:30   264541580Coastal phase
T+00:10:00   264361620 

IFT-3 Altitude & Speed (telemetry, smoothed), Acceleration, Velocity components, Trajectory profile, Mach number and Dynamic Pressure, Orbital Energy and Perigee graphs.

Actual trajectory Starship IFT-3. Data estimated from livestream telemetry
Actual trajectory Starship IFT-3. Data estimated from livestream telemetry

Photography IFT-3

Starship IFT-3 Liftoff
Starship IFT-3 Liftoff
Starship IFT-3 Plasma
Starship IFT-3 Plasma
Starship IFT-3 Coastal phase
Starship IFT-3 Coastal phase

Telemetry last 10 minutes (actual trajectory profile) IFT-3

Time Booster Booster Booster Starship Starship Starship Remarks
  engines Speed Altitude Speed Altitude engines  
  running (km/h) (km) (km/h) (km) running  
T+00:41:00       26482 153 0  
T+00:41:30       26504 148 0  
T+00:42:00       26526 143 0  
T+00:42:30       26548 138 0  
T+00:43:00       26571 134 0  
T+00:43:30       26593 129 0  
T+00:44:00       26615 124 0  
T+00:44:30       26639 119 0 T+00:44:39 What fell off?
T+00:45:00       26660 114 0  
T+00:45:30       26685 108 0  
T+00:46:00       26707 103 0  
T+00:46:30       26730 98 0 T+00:46:17 Plasma appears
T+00:47:00       26743 93 0 Plasma
T+00:47:30       26754 88 0 Plasma, speed increases
T+00:48:00       26750 82 0 Plasma
T+00:48:30       26673 78 0 Plasma
T+00:49:00       26528 73 0 Ended at T+0049:00
T+00:49:30       26142 67 0 Last signal T+00:49:40 (25724/65)

Evaluation IFT-3

Full stack positive

  • As a result of investments in the capacity of the tank farm, fuel loading took place with a greater volume per minute than with IFT-1 and IFT-2 and was completed in a shorter time (as tested and planned). From GO for propellant load to Engine start was 02:00:00 and is now 01:15:00.
  • On time.
  • Launch window 1 used.

Full stack negative

  • None.

Booster positive

  • For the second time, all 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy Booster started up successfully and completed a full-duration burn during ascent.
  • Following separation, the Super Heavy booster successfully completed its flip maneuver and completed a full boostback burn to send it towards its splashdown point in the Gulf of Mexico.

Booster negative

  • Super Heavy successfully lit several engines for its first ever landing burn before the vehicle experienced a RUD (that’s SpaceX-speak for “rapid unscheduled disassembly”). The booster’s flight concluded at approximately 462 meters in altitude and just under seven minutes into the mission.
  • Did not light all the expected engines for the landing burn.
  • No soft landing.

Starship positive

  • Starship executed its second successful hot-stage separation, powering down all but three of Super Heavy’s Raptor engines and successfully igniting the six second stage Raptor engines before separating the vehicles.
  • Starship’s six second stage Raptor engines all started successfully and powered the vehicle to its expected orbit, becoming the first Starship to complete its full-duration ascent burn.
  • While coasting, Starship accomplished several of the flight test’s additional objectives, including the opening and closing of its payload door (aka the pez dispenser,) and initiating a propellant transfer demonstration. Starship did not attempt its planned on-orbit relight of a single Raptor engine due to vehicle roll rates during coast. Results from these demonstrations will come after postflight data review is complete.
  • Starship went on to experience its first ever entry from space, providing valuable data on heating and vehicle control during hypersonic reentry. Live views of entry were made possible by Starlink terminals operating on Starship.

Starship negative

  • Raptor relight demo skipped.
  • It appears that some tiles fell of from Starship during the reentry.
  • No communication in the last phase of the flight.
  • No soft landing.
  • The flight test’s conclusion came during entry, with the last telemetry signals received via Starlink from Starship at approximately 49 minutes into the mission.

Next steps

Follow-up IFT-3

  • Starship was spinning (around its longitudinal axis) because the aerodynamic flaps were not working properly.
  • This made the fuel transfer test not possible.
  • The uncontrolled spinning is also a problem for the reentry (plasma phase) because there are only heat-resistant tiles attached to one side of Starship.
  • The tumbling made it impossible to perform the engine restart test.
  • After the plasma phase there was no more contact with Starship,
  • In the future, the FAA will provide 1 license for multiple launches.
  • IFT-3 FAA mishap investigation.
  • Rapid progress is needed for Starship, which is on the critical path for NASA’s Artemis 3 mission. Artemis 3 aims to land the first humans on the moon since the end of the Apollo era in the early 1970s. Artemis 3 is currently scheduled for 2026, giving Starship less than two years to meet NASA vehicle qualifications for landing astronauts on the lunar surface.
SpaceX Starship III sequence of events (IFT-3)
SpaceX Starship III sequence of events (IFT-3)