SpaceX suspended the planned launch of its Starhopper rocket on Monday (August 26th) after a last-second abortion stopped in exchange for the long-awaited demonstration flight. The company hopes to try again on Tuesday.
Starhopper, a squat, reusable prototype for a planned Starship vehicle, scheduled to fire 500 feet (150 meters) straight and then make a three-point landing during a test on Monday at a South Texas site near Boca Village Chica. But when the countdown clock reached zero shortly after 7am EDT (2300 GMT), Starhopper's only Raptor engine did not start.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hinted that the problem could be the lighters of Raptor, the company's latest rocket engine.
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"The Raptor uses dual superfluous flares. Better long-term but finer in development," wrote Musk in statement on Twitter . For a while, it looked like SpaceX could make a second attempt at launch Monday night, but eventually the company opted for a 24-hour delay.
"Lighters must be inspected," adds Musk . "We'll try again the same time tomorrow."
SpaceX is now aiming to try Starhopper's launch on Tuesday, August 27th. The Cameron County Sheriff's Department will close roads in the Boca Chica neighborhoods near the SpaceX facility for several hours during Tuesday's launch attempt. , SpaceX can also try on Wednesday if needed.
Starhopper's next launch has been delayed by nearly a week as SpaceX works with the Federal Aviation Administration for launch approvals.
An FAA launch license requirement specifies a nominal height of 500 feet (150 m) – Musk initially directed 200 meters for the test – and a maximum fuel load of 30 tons. Another requirement called on SpaceX to increase its liability insurance for flights from $ 3 million to $ 100 million in the event of an accident. You can read the permit for the experimental launch here.
A message sent to residents of Boca Chica near SpaceX facilities warned about the SpaceX test, urging them to go outside during flight to "avoid or minimize injuries. "From broken windows in the event of an accident or explosion.
SpaceX launches a 60-foot (18 m) tall Starhopper in two short, tied hops earlier this year. On July 25, Starhopper launched its first free flight and reached an altitude of about 65 feet (20 meters).
Musk said that this fourth flight, the highest ever for Starhopper, would also be the last rocket sail.
Yes, the last flight to Hopper, Musk said via Twitter on August 24. "If all goes well, it will turn into a vertical test bench for the Raptor."
SpaceX built Starhopper as the technology that proves the foundation of its ambitious Starship and Super Heavy rocket project, which aims to develop a massive, fully usable system for launch for low Earth orbit, moon, Mars, and even Earth travel.
After Starhopper retires, SpaceX is expected to turn its attention to its larger Starship prototypes, which will be powered by multiple Raptor engines. The company is building two prototypes of Starship, one on the South Texas site and another near the Cape Canaveral, Florida launch sites.