SpaceX abandons the launch of the Starhopper rocket prototype in the last second


SpaceX canceled the planned launch of its Starhopper rocket on Monday, August 26 after a last-second abortion blocked the long-awaited demonstration flight. The company hopes to try again on Tuesday.

Starhopper, a useable and reusable prototype of SpaceX's future spaceX spacecraft, was to take off 150 feet (150 meters) high and then land a three-point landing during Monday's test on the company's southwestern site. Texas, near the village of Boca Chica. But when the countdown reaches zero just after 19 hours. EDT (23:00 GMT), Starhopper's simple Raptor engine did not turn on.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, hinted that the problem may have been at the root of Raptor, the company's newest rocket engine.

Related: The evolution of SpaceX rockets in images

"Raptor uses two redundant torch igniters, better development in the long run, but more difficult in development", Musk wrote in a Twitter statement. For a while, it seemed like SpaceX could try a second launch test Monday night, but the company finally opted for a 24-hour delay.

"The igniters must be inspected" Musk added. "We will try tomorrow same time."

SpaceX now aims to launch Starhopper on Tuesday, August 27th. The Cameron County Sheriff's Department will close the roads of Boca Chica neighborhoods near SpaceX's facilities for several hours during Tuesday's launch attempt. SpaceX could also try Wednesday, if necessary.

The next launch of Starhopper has been delayed for nearly a week as SpaceX has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration for launch approvals.

An FAA-imposed launch license set the nominal altitude at 150 m (500 m) – Musk initially targeted 200 m for the test – and a maximum load of 30 tonnes of propellant. Another requirement was for SpaceX to increase its liability insurance for theft from $ 3 million to $ 100 million in the event of an accident. You can read this experimental launch license here.

A message was sent to the residents of Boca ChicaFacilities near SpaceX have warned about the SpaceX test, suggesting that they go outside during the flight to "avoid or minimize injuries" from broken windows in the event of an accident or explosion.

SpaceX launched the 18m (60ft) high Starhopper on two short captive jumps earlier this year. On July 25, Starhopper launched its first free flight and reached a height of about 20 meters.

Musk said this fourth flight, the highest ever by Starhopper, would also be the rocket's last trip.

"Yes, last flight for Hopper," Musk said via Twitter August 24th. "If all goes well, it will become a vertical test bench for Raptor."

SpaceX has designed Starhopper as a technological testing ground for its ambitious Starship and Super Heavy rocket project, which aims to develop a massive, fully reusable launch system for low Earth orbit, Moon, and Mars paths. and even from end to end. Earth.

Once Starhopper has retired, SpaceX should focus on its biggest prototypes of Starship, which will be powered by several Raptor engines. The company is currently building two Starship prototypes, one at the South Texas site and one near the company's launch sites in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him. @tariqjmalik. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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