SpaceX Starship Ship 25 launched and managed a successful separation from the booster and reportedly made it into space before the autonomous flight termination system activated, destroying the vehicle.

My question is whether Ship 25's post explosion remains were high enough and travelling fast enough to have burnt up on re-entry? Or is it more likely that the remains survived re-entry and made it back to earth, presumably landing in the Atlantic Ocean?

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    $\begingroup$ @TheRocketfan, the NOAA weather radar in Florida picked up the debris cloud over the Atlantic. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Nov 18, 2023 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


Yes, at least some parts definitely burned up

From what we know currently and what was said on the official SpaceX webcast, Starship was around 30 seconds away from SECO when the FTS system was activated. According to the last-updated telemetry values from Starship, it was going just over 24000 km/h or about 6700 m/s. This is well within the velocity ranges where reentry heating can cause some things to burn up.

The tiles will probably rain down into the ocean more or less intact along with mildly-scorched steel bits, however I suspect that many of the more delicate components will have burned up.

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    $\begingroup$ A little more info: the remains were tracked on weather radar coming down in the sea near Puerto Rico: twitter.com/planet4589/status/1725919847291228543 $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2023 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ Astronomy Live caught the entire nosecone section tumbling down on their telescope. So, clearly, the entire front section, with flaps still attached, survived AFTS activation. (Makes sense: it's essentially empty, there is nothing in there that would immediately explode. Maybe SpaceX needs to add AFTS charges to the header tanks as well?) However, that does not mean, it also survived reentry. In fact, one would assume someone would have found it by now if it did … a small house hurtling through the sky is not exactly inconspicuous. $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2023 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JörgWMittag I mean the US lost one of its stealth fighter aircraft over the US for a day or two, it's not impossible to say large pieces might have landed in the ocean, and may even still be on the ocean, undiscovered. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Nov 21, 2023 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ The radar track shows the debris coming down along a narrow corridor well out at sea north of Puerto Rico. Even if the forward section was tracked as a discrete object all the way to the ocean, someone would still have to mobilize (and pay for) an expedition with deep sea capability to find and return it. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2023 at 17:36

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