SpaceX Will Try Again to Launch Its Mega Rocket Into Orbit After First Attempt Ended in Explosion

Web Staff
By Web Staff
November 17, 2023Science & Tech
SpaceX Will Try Again to Launch Its Mega Rocket Into Orbit After First Attempt Ended in Explosion
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams (L) and Haley Esparza ride on horses as they visit SpaceX's Starship in Boca Chica, Texas, on April 19, 2023, as it's readied for launch at Starbase. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)

SpaceX has postponed its second attempt to launch the company’s Starship rocket system into space by a day to Saturday, Chief Executive Elon Musk said, citing a piece of flight control hardware that needed replacing.

“We need to replace a grid fin actuator, so launch is postponed to Saturday,” Mr. Musk wrote on social media platform X on Thursday.

The launch is scheduled to take place within a 20-minute window opening at 8 a.m. ET at the company’s Starbase site on the Gulf of Mexico near Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX is aiming to make a second attempt at launching its 400-foot-tall Starship rocket system into space after getting final approval from federal regulators. During its first try in April, the rocket exploded roughly four minutes after lifting off from Texas.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued its license Wednesday, noting that SpaceX has met safety, environmental, and other requirements to launch again. SpaceX originally said it was targeting Friday morning.

After the self-destruct system blew up the rocket over the Gulf of Mexico, SpaceX made dozens of improvements to the rocket and to the launch pad, which ended up with a large crater beneath it.

SpaceX has a $3 billion NASA contract to land astronauts on the lunar surface as early as 2025, using the spacecraft.

A month ago, the FAA completed its safety review of the upcoming Starship launch. It needed more time to wrap up its environmental review. No one was injured in the first attempt, but the pad was heavily damaged as the rocket’s 33 main engines ignited at liftoff.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service later reported that concrete chunks, steel sheets and other objects were hurled thousands of feet from the pad. It also said a plume of pulverized concrete sent material several miles away.

Wildlife and environmental groups sued the FAA over what they considered to be the FAA’s failure to fully consider the environmental impacts of the Starship program near Boca Chica Beach.

Plans call for the test flight to last 1.5 hours and fall short of a full orbit of Earth. The spacecraft would go eastward, passing over the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans before ditching near Hawaii. Nothing of value will be on board.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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