BOCA CHICA, Texas – SpaceX called off its first launch attempt of its giant rocket on Monday.
Elon Musk and his company had planned to launch the nearly 400-foot Starship rocket from the southern tip of Texas, near the Mexican border.
The countdown was halted at the 40-second mark because of a stuck valve in the first-stage booster. Launch controllers couldn’t fix the frozen valve in time, and canceled the attempt. The countdown continued, and fueling was completed, as a dress rehearsal.
No people or satellites were aboard. There won’t be another try until at least Wednesday.
A pressurant valve appears to be frozen, so unless it starts operating soon, no launch today— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 17, 2023
SpaceX says Starship and its super heavy rocket is the most powerful spacecraft ever built, standing at nearly 400 feet tall.
It will be the first launch with Starship’s two sections together. Early versions of the sci-fi-looking upper stage rocketed several miles into the stratosphere a few years back, crashing four times before finally landing upright in 2021. The towering first-stage rocket booster, dubbed Super Heavy, will soar for the first time.
The test flight will last 1 1/2 hours, and fall short of a full orbit of Earth. If Starship reaches the three-minute mark after launch, the booster will be commanded to separate and fall into the Gulf of Mexico. The spacecraft would continue eastward, passing over the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans before ditching near Hawaii. Starship is designed to be fully reusable but nothing will be saved from the test flight.
The space agency posted on Saturday photos of the rocket with the caption, “Starship fully stacked at Starbase.”
Starship fully stacked at Starbase pic.twitter.com/UW4V3ZRcLR— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 15, 2023
SpaceX got approval on Friday for the test launch from the Federal Aviation Administration, according to CNN. If all goes well, the rocket will orbit the Earth before Starship splashes down in the ocean.
“I’m not saying it will get to orbit, but I am guaranteeing excitement. It won’t be boring,” Musk promised at a Morgan Stanley conference last month. “I think it’s got, I don’t know, hopefully about a 50% chance of reaching orbit.”
T-12 hours until the first flight test of a fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket; targeting ~8:00 a.m. CT for liftoff → https://t.co/bJFjLCilmc pic.twitter.com/dZTNuOnKPr— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 17, 2023
Last November, NASA selected Starship to support a sustained program on the Moon with the Artemis IV mission.
SpaceX is also building a Starship launch facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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