New SpaceX Starship fails to fire, but the Mars rocket has more chances

Putting humans in the picture gives a better idea of just how big the Starship orbital prototype will be. SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared this behind-the-scenes look at workers in Texas with Starship on a transporter in September 2019.

Elon Musk

SpaceX’s latest Starship prototype had another false start Tuesday morning, as a test “hop” of the next-generation rocket was aborted before ignition. 

This follows an earlier attempt, Monday evening, in which the engine of the SN5 test model failed to ignite.

Elon Musk tweeted that crews may try again later Tuesday, but the company also secured backup launch opportunities for Wednesday and Thursday, according to Federal Aviation Administration notices.

Though the roughly 9-story-tall test craft is designed for orbital flight, it’ll make an attempt at what amounts to slowly rising in the air to about 150 meters (492 feet). 

According to airspace closures issued by the FAA for the area, the hop could still happen Tuesday anytime before 6 p.m. PT.

You might recall that an earlier test craft called “Starhopper” performed such a short flight last year. 

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On Thursday, crews at the SpaceX development facility in Boca Chica, Texas, completed a successful static fire of the prototype’s raptor engine, clearing the path for a hop attempt. 

“Starship SN5 just completed full duration static fire. 150m hop soon,” Musk said on Twitter.

Musk said on Twitter last month that SN5 “will attempt to fly later this week,” but Hurricane Hanna had other plans, forcing SpaceX to batten down the hatches at Boca Chica and postpone all major tests. 

It’s been a struggle to get the SN series of prototypes off the ground. 

So far, SN4 exploded after a static fire test, SN3 crumpled during a pressure test, and SN1 suffered a similar fate

This, of course, is why you test. SpaceX suffered a similar string of failures before Falcon 9 launches and landings became a routine thing. 

And so the company is pressing forward with Starship. 

It’s possible we could see the big silver rocket fly Tuesday. Of course, we’ve heard this all before. Fingers crossed. 

This page has been constantly updated as Starship’s hop gets closer.

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