A giant experimental rocket built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX was due to shoot up to nearly eight miles above the company’s testing facilities in South Texas on Tuesday, in what would have been the highest test flight yet of the technology Musk hopes will one day ferry the first humans to go to Mars. But the launch was called off with just one second left on the countdown clock.
It’s not clear why SpaceX halted the launch, though last-minute scrubs are not uncommon even during routine rocket launches. Computers or flight controllers may have caught an abnormal reading about the rocket’s health and stopped the engines from igniting. SpaceX did not disclose the reason for the delay, though the company still has the ability to conduct the test launch on Wednesday or Thursday.
SpaceX has not revealed what day or time the company is now aiming to conduct the test flight.
The hulking rocket is an early prototype for Starship, a 160-foot-tall spaceship proposed by Musk that he hopes will be used for hauling massive satellites into Earth’s orbit, shuttling people between cities at breakneck speeds and — eventually — establishing a human settlement on Mars.
The company is still a long way from building an operational Starship spacecraft. So far, it has constructed eight different prototypes that have been used to test how well their steel frames perform under pressure and to conduct suborbital “hop tests,” which have tested how the rocket’s gargantuan engines can steer the vehicle to soft, pinpoint landings after flight. Musk has said the technique is essential for recovering and reusing the vehicles as well as one day conducting a controlled landing on the Moon or Mars.
Previous test flights of Starship prototypes have traveled less than about 500 feet in the air and made use of only one engine. The vehicle that will be used on SpaceX’s next Starship test flight, called SN8, will be the first to have three engines installed. And it will be by far the highest and riskiest Starship test flight yet.
Well hope that he makes them work soon can’t wait to go up there