Home News The operation has been delayed due to a technical issue

The operation has been delayed due to a technical issue

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false start. SpaceX announced that the first take-off of the Starship, the largest rocket in the world, did not take place due to a technical problem encountered during the last minutes of preparations.

This giant was scheduled to take off on Monday, April 17 from the Starbus cosmodrome, in the far south of Texas in the United States.

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However, the SpaceX teams continued to run countdowns and simulate liftoffs in the form of a rehearsal, interrupted before the scheduled launch time.

Back-up dates are possible during the week. “We expect at least 48 hours before we can attempt this test flight again.”said a SpaceX employee during the company’s live video.

“The valve appears to be frozen”SpaceX chief Elon Musk tweeted earlier.

Rocket all records

From a height of 120 meters, the Starship belongs to the class of super-heavy launchers, capable of delivering more than 100 tons of cargo into orbit. Its take-off power should be more than twice that of the legendary Saturn V, the Apollo rocket for the moon program (111 meters).

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Its purpose is flights to the Moon and Mars.

This black and silver behemoth, which runs on liquid oxygen and methane, has never flown in its full configuration, with its super-strong first stage, called the Super Heavy.

Only the second stage of the vehicle, the spacecraft, the spacecraft, which gives its name to the entire rocket, has conducted suborbital tests (at an altitude of about 10 km).

A challenging takeoff

The flight plan for Monday was as follows: About three minutes after liftoff, the Super Heavy was to separate and land again in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Starship was then to continue its ascent on its own, completing little less than a circumnavigation of the Earth before falling back into the Pacific Ocean.

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But that was it “best case scenario”SpaceX said, because the test result is uncertain.

“Tomorrow probably won’t be successful, if by that we mean getting into orbit.”Elon Musk had said Sunday night, speaking to his followers via Twitter.

“If we see anything that worries us, we will postpone the trip.”to caution.

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The billionaire simply wished that take-off, when attempted, would not destroy the launch pad. His fear: that one of the Super Heavy’s 33 Raptor’s engines would explode and cause a “domino effect” spread to others. “It would certainly take several months to rebuild the launch pad if we melted it down.”He said.

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The main goal is to collect as much data as possible for the next prototypes.

The first astronauts on the moon in fifty years

This inaugural flight was to be closely monitored by NASA. The US space agency chose this spacecraft to return astronauts, for the first time in half a century, to the moon, during the Artemis 3 mission officially scheduled for 2025.

The astronauts will take off separately aboard NASA’s new massive rocket, the SLS (98 meters high, with take-off power twice as large as planned for the spacecraft).

They will travel to the Moon in the Orion capsule, which will then dock with the Starship spacecraft, which has previously been placed in lunar orbit. It is he who will bring astronauts to the surface of the moon. Without this lander, the Artemis 3 mission cannot be carried out.

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In the future, the rocket must be fully reusable. Super Heavy will have to return to Earth opposite the launch tower, equipped with booms to catch it.

The Starship will have to return to Earth using the retrorocket. It was this maneuver that was tried several times in 2020 and 2021. Then several prototypes descended at breakneck speed, tumbling to the ground in impressive explosions – before one finally managed to land.

Billionaires are already on the waiting list

Having a reusable launcher, Elon Musk’s grand strategy, would bring prices down. Each Starship flight can only cost in the end “a few million” Dollars, he said again on Sunday.

The rocket already has customers: its first manned flights were planned in partnership with American billionaire Jared Isaacman.

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Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and American businessman Dennis Tito (the first space tourist in history) announced that they would go on a trip around the moon.

But for Elon Musk, the Starship is above all the vessel that must allow humanity to become multi-planetary: “We have a hard road ahead of us for two or three years. […] But eventually we should have something that will allow us to establish a base on the Moon and Mars. »

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