SpaceX’s first attempt to launch the Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, was canceled Monday. This isn’t unusual—many new rocket flights are carved out multiple times during early attempts to launch from Earth.
But the company says it is willing to try again. Here’s what you need to know about the next launch attempt.
What is the release date and how can I watch it?
SpaceX has scheduled the flight as early as 9:28 a.m. ET, and it could begin anytime between that time and 10:30 a.m. from the company’s launch site in South Texas.
SpaceX said it will go live on her YouTube channel Approximately 45 minutes before the rocket is ready for takeoff.
During a live stream of a different SpaceX launch on Wednesday, the company noted that another Starship delay is possible.
“If we do an attempt tomorrow, the chances of a flake are high,” said Jessie Anderson, a SpaceX engineer who also hosts some of the company’s webcasts.
Was the April 20th launch attempt really?
Yes yes it is.
Perhaps it was just a coincidence that SpaceX, the spaceflight company founded by Elon Musk, lights up a rocket on the 20th of the fourth month this year.
maybe. Then again, many observers have noted Mr. Musk’s tendency to include references to “420,” a number associated with cannabis, in his public dealings. Examples include the purchase price per share he suggested on Twitter ($54.20) and the share price at which he said he would take electric car maker Tesla private ($420).
Who can say?
Why wasn’t Starship launched on Monday?
There was a problem with a valve in the pressure system of the Super Heavy, the booster that helps the Starship reach orbit – it appears to be frozen. After checking the stuck valve and updating the liquid methane and oxygen thrusters needed to fuel the Starship, SpaceX determined it was ready to launch again Thursday.
“It looked like a scene out of science fiction,” said Phil Larson, chief government affairs officer at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, who was standing on the beach on South Padre Island, north of the launch site. “Children playing in the water and a huge rocket in the distance.”
Larson, who worked at SpaceX when Musk first announced plans for a ship on Mars in 2016, said he wasn’t disappointed when the launch was cancelled.
“I didn’t expect him to go,” said Mr. Larson.
What is a spacecraft?
It’s the tallest rocket ever built – 394 feet tall, or nearly 90 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty with a pedestal.
And it has the most engines ever in a rocket booster: The Super Heavy, the bottom that will propel the Starship into orbit, has 33 of SpaceX’s powerful Raptor engines poking out from its bottom. They’re capable of generating 16 million pounds of thrust at full throttle, far more than the Saturn V that carried the Apollo astronauts to the Moon.
Boca Chica, Texas
Starship is designed to be completely reusable. The Super Heavy booster is expected to land like SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 9 rockets, and the Starship will be able to return from the belly of space through the atmosphere like a sky diver before pivoting to a vertical position for landing.
Why is SpaceX building the starship?
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is the most launched rocket in the world. The spacecraft is the next step. It will be able to carry much more payloads and many more Falcon 9s. And because it is completely reusable, Starship can significantly reduce the cost of launching payloads into orbit.
NASA is paying SpaceX to build a version of the vehicle to carry astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface for the Artemis III and IV missions later this decade. The spacecraft is also central to Mr. Musk’s vision of sending people to Mars.
What will happen during the trip?
For Thursday’s test flight, Starship will fly almost entirely around the Earth, starting in Texas and landing in the waters off Hawaii.
About eight minutes after launch on Thursday, the Super Heavy booster will blast off into the Gulf of Mexico. The spacecraft will fly higher in space, reaching an altitude of about 150 miles and traveling around Earth before reentering the atmosphere. If it survives re-entry, about 90 minutes after launch, it will splash out into the Pacific Ocean about 62 miles north of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
But with all of the Starship’s new systems, the SpaceX founder acknowledged the difficulties of achieving all of the flight goals.
“There are a million ways this missile could fail,” Musk said. “I could go on for hours.”
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