Will Starship’s hot-staging work on the first try?
resolved Feb 27

Ie, on the next full stack test flight to use hot staging, will that hot staging be basically nominal?

If the hot staging is a direct or the primary indirect cause of flight failure, this will resolve NO

If SpaceX abandons hot staging without testing it, this resolves N/A.

UPDATE: this question has now reduced to whether "the hot staging [was] a direct or the primary indirect cause of flight failure" of the lower stage (or the upper stage I guess but that seems much less likely). See the comments, especially the earliest ones where I precommited to that interpretation.

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Update from SpaceX:


The most likely root cause for the booster RUD was determined to be filter blockage where liquid oxygen is supplied to the engines, leading to a loss of inlet pressure in engine oxidizer turbopumps that eventually resulted in one engine failing in a way that resulted in loss of the vehicle. SpaceX has since implemented hardware changes inside future booster oxidizer tanks to improve propellant filtration capabilities and refined operations to increase reliability.

The FAA mishap investigation was also closed today. The FAA describes stage separation as "successful":

(this image was posted to the LabPadre discord by a member with high posting privileges, so no official source but I think there is no reason to doubt its authenticity)

The corrective actions for the booster include changes to "increase tank filtration and decrease slosh", suggesting the booster is at least partly to blame for its demise, rather than the blame landing squarely on how the separation itself proceeded. "updated engine control algorithms" could plausibly be about reducing the deceleration experienced by the booster, but given SpaceX list the filter blockage as the root cause, it seems the FAA and SpaceX are placing the blame primarily on the booster itself.

@YaakovSaxon I'm not sure if you're still active, but I think this market should resolve YES, and related markets conditional on this one resolve accordingly.

Anyone else have any views on this?

Pinging @traders if anyone wants to weigh in

@chrisjbillington Probably should resolve Yes. “Decrease slosh” seems to be in reference of the extra force on the forward dome of Super Heavy but I wouldn’t consider that a failure of hot staging.

@chrisjbillington Yeah, I got excited when I saw this that I could finally give this whole series of questions a proper resolution :)

sold Ṁ199 of NO

exiting this mess at 40 mana loss, goodluck everyone hah

predicted NO

Given past comments from the author, I think we should all expect that this will wait on the mishap report from the FAA. The mishap in question was the stages exploding. The report will include both a root cause analysis (though the public version might not be detailed) and a list of corrective actions.

predicted NO

@EvanDaniel For comparison, the previous mishap report took about 4.5 months from the date of the launch. We might expect this one to be quicker, but that's a reference point anyway.

predicted NO

@chrisjbillington I expect this one will be much sooner. Someone could make a market on that? (Or a market on when the next launch license is granted, I expect they're tightly related?)

This one had no reports of damage to public property, no injuries, and (I think?) no environmental impacts beyond what their impact assessment said to expect. Should be much faster.

predicted NO

@EvanDaniel Here's a market on the mishap investigation:

Scott Manley said that he thinks that looks like it was a success:


bought Ṁ50 NO from 60% to 56%
predicted NO

@Berg I think he's talking about the protection of the hotstaging ring, and of the viability of hotstaging in general. I agree with both of those. But it's still an open question imo if the hotstaging itself caused the booster's issues.

bought Ṁ50 of NO

@Berg If the deceleration from the separation event is in fact what caused the problems, then I think this market resolves No.

predicted YES

@Mqrius the question has nothing to do with the reusability of the booster. The ship made it through hot staging to space = it worked

predicted NO

@GordanKnott that's not specified in the conditions whether or not that's true.

@Mqrius therefore we should resolve based on expert consensus. Scott Manley's opinion is that it's a success. Anyone else? Let's form a list.

predicted NO

@Berg nah, markets resolve on the opinion from the market maker. Ideally they are specified well enough beforehand. If they aren't, it also seems okay to resolve N/A.

That being said, Scott is also merely speculating. Yes, the staging was a success for the ship, but no one currently knows whether it was a success for the booster. Does that even matter? Depends on the market creator.

@Mqrius well it would be strange if everyone who knows what they talking about were calling it a success, and the market maker kept calling it a failure. That would indicate some strong negative bias towards SpaceX.

predicted YES

@Mqrius re-read the question. The fate of the booster is irrelevant. If it turns out that the hotstaging caused the ship to fail, then it's No, otherwise it's yes. So we should probably wait for SpaceX to tell us what caused the ship to fail.

predicted NO

@Berg Yeah that's fair, but in this case it is actually ambiguous and wouldn't be wrong to call it a possible failure.

predicted NO

@GordanKnott question doesn't mention either the ship or the booster. Doesn't talk about things like primary or secondary missions. It says "flight failure", which can mean failure of booster's flight after separation. It's ambiguous and underspecified.

bought Ṁ130 of NO

@Mqrius Comments below do clarify this though:

I think I'd have to say that if it damages the first stage to the point that it is on that account unable to complete its flight plan (belly flop to soft landing in water, or whatever is it they're planning for the first stage after separation), then that would qualify as "[not] basically nominal" and "a direct or the primary indirect cause of flight failure [for the first stage]" and therefore resolve NO.

predicted NO
predicted NO

@GordanKnott @Berg The fate of the booster is entirely relevant, if the explosion was caused by the staging; see the clarifications from the question author in the comments. Scott's video supports a No resolution given those comments.

predicted NO

Scott Manley suggests that the stage separation ejected booster backwards by ~100km/h, which could cause ullage collapse, leading to the booster's failure. This would definitely be No for this market.

predicted NO

@Mqrius Yeah, I like that analysis a lot. Fits well with reliable engines, no signs of gross damage at the top of the booster, engines shutting down rapidly relative to booster rotation, and my assumption that SpaceX has a decent understanding of slosh mechanics given their hop testing.

predicted NO

@EvanDaniel The whole video is pretty insightful, I found!