SpaceX had to abort the first high-altitude test flight of its latest Starship SN8 prototype just one second away from launch.
The launch attempt (above) took place late Tuesday afternoon at the launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, but just at the moment its three Raptor engines were supposed to ignite to send the prototype spacecraft skyward, Mission Control called out: “Raptor abort.”
SpaceX is yet to publicly reveal why the mission was aborted, though it confirmed during its livestream of the event that the launch team was standing down for the day, ending any hopes of a flight test taking place on Tuesday.
When the launch eventually takes place, hopefully in the coming days, the Starship prototype will attempt to make its highest flight to date, to an altitude of around 50,000 feet, before returning and landing back on the ground in the same way that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 boosters have been doing for years. That’s some 15,000 feet higher than a passenger plane usually flies.
According to SpaceX, the prototype’s first suborbital flight is designed to test a number of objectives, “from how the vehicle’s three Raptor engines perform and the overall aerodynamic entry capabilities of the vehicle, including its body flaps, to how the vehicle manages propellant transition. SN8 will also attempt to perform a landing flip maneuver, which would be a first for a vehicle of this size.”
Once the Starship technology is ready, SpaceX aims to launch the spacecraft — which also acts as a second-stage booster — atop the massive first-stage Super Heavy rocket, which is powered by 31 Raptor engines.
The ultimate goal is to use the Starship and Super Heavy rocket as a fully reusable space transportation system capable of carrying as many as 100 people plus cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, Mars, and possibly beyond.
We’re now waiting for news on the next launch window and will update this article just as soon as we know.
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