Original story 12:45 EST: SpaceX is preparing its Starship prototype vehicle for a second launch attempt Wednesday afternoon from the South Texas launch site. The launch window will run until 5pm local time (UTC 11pm) and sources say the ascent will take place no earlier than 2am local time.
The company was very close to launching the “SN8” prototype on Tuesday night before the experiment was automatically interrupted, leaving only 1.3 seconds left in the countdown. It’s not clear what caused the last-second friction — perhaps a pressure or temperature value just outside of acceptable levels — but SpaceX engineers seem to have addressed this issue.
The weather at the coastal launch site on Wednesday is still almost perfect, with light winds and clear skies. If a technical issue arises again, there will be additional options on Thursday and Friday. However, the weather in South Texas will be much windier these days, perhaps too much for a flight.
This will be the first time SpaceX has tried to fly the Starship to great heights – the vehicle can fly up to 12.5 km. Previous test flights were only about 150 meters long, and these vehicles do not include the wings, nose cone, and other features needed to control the flight of the vehicle in the thin upper atmosphere. Handling this is no small power as the huge vehicle is over 50 meters high and quite wide.
Since much of this test will be new to the vehicle and its engineers, a failure is more likely to occur. Maybe that’s why hundreds of thousands of people have been heard on SpaceX’s short internet broadcast of Tuesday’s launch attempt – so much uncertainty remains as to exactly what will happen.
While we wait for the second attempt, feel free to review the gallery images taken early Wednesday morning by Trevor Mahlmann, who visited the starting site before Boca Chica Boulevard was closed to through traffic for the test.
Update 15:10 EST: It is unlikely that the following webcast will start more than five minutes before the start attempt, which will likely take place no earlier than 15:00 local time (UTC 21:00).
Image of Trevor Mahlmann