SpaceX scrubs the first orbital launch attempt of Starship

We'll have to wait just a little longer to see the world's most powerful rocket soar to the skies.
Chris Young
Starship at Starbase, Texas.
Starship at Starbase, Texas.

SpaceX / Twitter 

SpaceX scrubbed its first Starship orbital launch attempt just at the last moment. Instead, the private space firm conducted a wet dress rehearsal.

SpaceX announced roughly 10 minutes before the scheduled launch time of 08:20 am CT that it had experienced an issue, meaning it would have to stand down for the day.

As it had already filled Starship with fuel, it would go ahead with a wet dress rehearsal that would allow it to glean valuable data ahead of the next launch attempt.

"A pressurant valve appears to be frozen, so unless it starts operating soon, no launch today," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter shortly before the scrubbed launch.

When will SpaceX's Starship fly to orbit?

Kate Tice, Quality Systems Engineering manager at SpaceX, and one of the narrators of the live stream, said another launch attempt likely won't be possible within the next 48 hours. Musk added on Twitter that SpaceX "learned a lot today, now offloading propellant, retrying in a few days …"

Ars Technica's Senior Space Editor, Eric Berger, meanwhile, pointed out on Twitter that "Wednesday looks iffy for the next Starship launch attempt", citing a weather forecast of strong winds in South Texas.

Today's scrub is not the outcome space enthusiasts the world over will have wanted, but it wasn't wholly unexpected. Once it does soar to the skies, Starship will be the world's most powerful rocket. Much in the same fashion as NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), the mission won't be rushed so as to give Starship the best chance of success.

If all goes to plan, the 394-foot-tall (120 meters) Starship rocket surpasses NASA's SLS to become the world's most powerful launch system. While SLS produced roughly 9.5 million lbs of thrust at liftoff during the Artemis I moon mission, Starship is expected to smash that record by creating a massive 17 million lbs of thrust at launch. That will be thanks primarily to the 33 Raptor engines that power Super Heavy.

Starship could take humans to Mars and beyond

Last week, SpaceX shared an impressive animated video that showcases its aspirations with the Starship program. The video shows Starship flying to Mars, where a colony is already set up, and numerous other Starship spacecraft are approaching the Red Planet.

Musk recently stated an incredibly ambitious plan to build one million Starship spacecraft that would send more than one million humans to Mars by 2050.

Anticipation skyrocketed over the weekend when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it had given SpaceX clearance to launch Starship today. Though it was not to be today, we may still see the era of Starship roar into life later this week.

This was a breaking news piece and it was updated as new information emerged. You can watch the live stream of the launch countdown, as it happened, via the embedded video below.

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