From the different renderings of Starship no escape systems can be seen.

What will the different abort modes both during launch and landing be like?

What happens for example if the first stage suffers a catastrophic failure at or soon after liftoff?

How about landing? What is planned in case of single or multiple engine failures?


There are no published/proposed abort modes for ascent. We can speculate that some incidents can be survived by letting Starship tumble free and light it's own engines to burn to a low orbit or land depending on altitude and velocity, but that capability has not been proposed by SpaceX.

Landing redundancy is provided by carrying 7 deep throttling, sea level capable engines on the current edition - meaning a redundant number of engines can start the landing burn at low throttle levels, increasing throttle if engines drop out.

But even that is speculative based on the current design. SpaceX has not discussed abort modes other than mentioning that airlines do not have escape capsules or parachutes, and stating that they are aiming for that level of reliability.

From the first IAC presentation, a vague response from Elon about abort abilities and their impracticality with this platform:

Oh launch abort, the spacecraft itself is capable of aborting from the booster, the erm… Launch abort on the spaceship itself is kinda pointless, if you’re on Mars you’re taking off or you’re not taking off. You know, parachutes don’t work too well and [you can’t have] some standard abort system, and just how do you abort 100 people it’s just not feasible, the key is to make the spaceship itself extremely safe and reliable, and have redundancy in the engines, high safety margins and have [it be] well tested. Much like a commercial airliner. Like they don’t give you parachutes.

  • $\begingroup$ they'll need to get rid of extra propellant before landing? $\endgroup$ – the world is not flat Mar 17 '20 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe, maybe not - too little is known to say for sure. $\endgroup$ – Saiboogu Mar 18 '20 at 23:13

Really this is several questions. Launch abort, and landing abort/recovery questions.

Launch abort, there is not yet a lot of good answers, and may have to wait for future information.

Landing abort we know they intend to land on at least 3 engines, which they changed from 2 to 3 in the various iterations. This is designed to allow engine out on landing. Multiple engine loss on landing and it just going to be a bad day, no matter what.


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