Advanced Television

Starship launch delayed

April 17, 2023

By Chris Forrester

With around ten minutes to go (at 14:15 BST) SpaceX announced its Starship test launch was delayed because of a faulty (possibly frozen) pressure valve.

The count continued to T-10 secs to for a ‘wet’ dress rehearsal – so known because the propellant tanks were fully loaded. Elon Musk, speaking during a telecast, had previosuly stressed to viewers to “set your expectations low”. The company was optimistic for a retry in 48 hours or so. Musk had said “The ship was ready for a launch, but he still fully expects it not to happen. Most likely something will come up and it will be delayed.”

The rocket’s giant Raptor engines have been pre-tested and performed as designed. The Federal Aviation Administration (and sister environmental organisations) have all approved the planned launch and issued licences and permits.

“After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility requirements. The license is valid for five years,” FAA said in its statement.

Musk has frequently said to be prepared for problems. SpaceX’s website says: “With a test such as this, success is measured by how much we can learn.”

NASA has hired SpaceX to transport two US astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon using a modified version of Starship and currently set for 2025.

SpaceX is privately held, but has an unofficial valuation of some $140 billion.

This mission calls for a three-minute flight for the Super Heavy booster which will then splashdown into the Gulf of Mexico. The Starship will reach a height of about 146 miles when eventully launched, and then onwards around the planet to near Hawaii where it will also splashdown.

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