In an unlikely turn of events, SpaceX, the American spacecraft manufacturer, launcher, and satellite communications corporation, has reportedly cancelled and postponed the debut launch of its highly anticipated Starship rocket during the final countdown, citing a frozen pressurization valve as the reason.
The test flight of new Starship system is next planned on Thursday, April 20 for a second attempt launch, as stated by SpaceX on Twitter later.
Originally, the two-stage rocket ship was planned to blast-off from SpaceX’s ‘Starbase’ facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on 14th April at 8 am EDT with a launch window of two hours. However, representatives from the company announced on the live webcast that they were scraping the anticipated 90-minute space launch for at least 48 hours due to frozen valve in lower-stage rocket booster.
It is to be noted that the Starship cruise vessel as well as Super Heavy booster are both designed as reusable components, having the ability to fly back to Earth for a soft landing.
Though the Super Heavy booster has never soared above ground, the prototypes of Starship cruise vessel has completed 5 sub-space flights in recent years. Reportedly, in February this year, SpaceX carried out a test-firing of the booster for around 10 seconds, igniting 31 out of 33 Raptor engines, with the rocket bolted in place.
Last Friday, SpaceX’s fully stacked rocket system received a license from the Federal Aviation Administration for the first test flight, crossing the final regulatory challenge for the launch.
As per the anticipation, if the next launch bid goes as planned, the simultaneous ignition of all 33 Raptor engines will loft the Starship on a flight around the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and free-falling into the Pacific at supersonic speed. Meanwhile, the Super Heavy booster, after separating from Starship, will begin controlled return flight before diving into the Gulf of Mexico.
The first launch of Starship into space would be a major milestone for SpaceX, with the ambition of resending humans to the moon, and finally to Mars. Also, a successful debut flight would place the Starship system as the ultimate launch vehicle on Earth.
Source credit: https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/elon-musks-spacex-postpones-debut-flight-starship-rocket-system-2023-04-17/