Robin Gierse
Systems Administrator


German News Report on Starship IFT-3

3 min read

Today I just have a quick rant: The way this article reporting on Starship's Integrated Flight Test 3.

The German news outlet "Tagesschau" reported on IFT-3 right after the mission ended with a rapid unscheduled disassembly of the Ship during re-entry and boy are they off with this so-called report! Here is the original article (in German). The headline (loosely translated by me) is "SpaceX rocket destroyed on third test flight yet again". Let me start with what is right about this: Yes, the second stage (also referred to as "Ship") was destroyed on re-entry. Yes, the first stage made a hard splashdown instead of a soft one. Yes, it was a test flight. And yes, it obviously was a SpaceX rocket. But what gets me is the "yet again" part (again, a quick translation by me). Just two simple words (it is even just one in German) make the reader think the test was a failure, while it actually was a huge success with most milestones successfully achieved and even in failure they gathered tons of invaluable data.

After actually reading the article I am even more disappointed than just by the title. The author obviously has no background in spaceflight and apparently did not even bother to do some basic research. Except for reporting, that IFT-3 happened, this article has no content value whatsoever, and I would rather it not be public.

Let me touch on the most important flaws:

  • The title is misleading. I have no other way to put it.
  • The first paragraph makes it sound like the test flight was a failure (which it was not).
  • Only the third paragraph briefly mentions the most important point: A lot (and I think it is fair to call it a shitload) of data was gathered throughout the flight.
  • Another paragraph focuses on the so-called failures of the previous test flights, just mentioning the data gathering as a sidenote, while the latter is the important part.

This is just incredibly poor journalism. And do not get me wrong: I am neither a SpaceX fanboy nor an Elon Musk fan, so I do not blindly protect whatever they do. But the sheer incompetence expressed in this article is staggering, and I am deeply troubled by the non-existing quality of this work. Take a look at this Washington Post article to learn, how a proper report on the matter could have looked, or dive into this official NASA article to get a broader understanding, why Starship is important and where it will get us eventually.

Your key takeaway, dear reader, should be: IFT-3 was a huge success not only for SpaceX, but for spaceflight as a whole and pushed the boundaries of what is possible yet again (after IFT-1 and IFT-2). One can only imagine, what the next test flights will achieve.