SpaceX postpones launch by 48 hours
No one will try to launch the most powerful rocket ever into space for at least 48 hours.
The Starship vehicle was made in the US by Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX.
The unmanned mission that was supposed to take off from Boca Chica, Texas, on Monday was called off just minutes before it was supposed to take off.
Musk said in a tweet that the problem seemed to be caused by a “pressurant valve” that had frozen. SpaceX could still try to launch again later this week.
Starship is almost 120 meters (400 feet) tall and is built to have almost twice as much thrust as any rocket ever made.
The plan is to send the vehicle’s upper stage east, which will take it almost all the way around the world.
Before the launch was delayed, Mr. Musk asked everyone to stay calm. It’s not unusual for a rocket to have some problems on its first flight.
Thousands of people went to places along the Gulf of Mexico coast to watch the event.
Elon Musk hopes that Starship will completely change the rocket business.
It’s made to be fully and quickly used again. He thinks that people and satellites could be sent into space several times a day like a jet airliner might cross the Atlantic.
In fact, the vehicle could make it possible for regular people to travel between planets.
The top part of Starship has been tested on short hops before, but this would have been the first time the lower part of the ship went up.
This huge booster, called Super Heavy, was fired in February while it was still attached to its launch mount. But on that occasion, the engines were reduced to half what they could do.
If everything goes as planned for another launch this week, SpaceX will aim for at least 90% thrust, which means the stage should deliver close to 70 meganewtons. This is the amount of force that would be needed to launch almost 100 Concorde supersonic planes.
If everything goes as planned, Starship will rise and head down range across the Gulf. The 33 engines on the bottom of the methane-fueled booster will burn for two minutes and 49 seconds.
At that point, the rocket will split in half, and the top half, which is the ship, will keep going for another 6 minutes and 23 seconds using its engines.
By now, it should be flying over the Caribbean and floating through space more than 62 miles (100 km) above the earth’s surface.
SpaceX wants the Super Heavy booster to fly back to the coast of Texas and land vertically, just above the water of the Gulf of Mexico. Then it will be left to fall over and sink.
The ship plans to come back into Earth’s atmosphere after almost a full turn around the planet. It will land in the Pacific Ocean just north of the Hawaiian Islands. It has been covered with tiles to protect it from the extreme heat it will feel as it falls.
The time for the bellyflop into the ocean is 90 minutes after liftoff.
SpaceX thinks that in the long run, both the booster and the ship will land in a controlled way so they can be refueled and sent back into space.
At Boca Chica, the company has been trying out different ways of making steel vehicles.
There are a lot of models waiting to take off.
Nasa, the US space agency, will be among the most exciting people to watch on Monday.
It is giving almost $3 billion to SpaceX to help it build a version of Starship that can land astronauts on the Moon.
Garret Reissman, a professor of astronautical engineering at the Southern California university says Mr. Musk wants to go further into the Solar System.
How SpaceX intends to use the Starship
When the launch does happen, the Super Heavy booster will separate from the Starship spacecraft about two and a half minutes after liftoff. The booster will then fall into the ocean. After that, the Starship will use its engines, which will run for more than six minutes, to move fast enough to almost reach orbit.
The vehicle will then go almost around the Earth and return to the atmosphere near Hawaii. It should land about an hour and a half after liftoff near the coast.
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Elon Musk, who runs SpaceX, has been hyping up the test flight for years.
Musk tried to keep people from getting too excited before Monday’s launch by saying, “Success is not what should be expected…
That would be crazy.”
He also said that if the Super Heavy booster blew up on the launch pad, it could melt the steel structures around it and take SpaceX a few months to rebuild the launch site.
In the next few hours, SpaceX officials will likely give an update on when the next launch attempt will happen.
SpaceX Starship: Elon Musk’s firm postpones launch of a biggest rocket ever