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Wed, Apr 19, 2023

SpaceX Starship Launch Waved Off

First Flight Expected Soon, After Lessons Learned

SpaceX halted the test launch of its Starship due to a stuck valve in the 1st stage booster, cutting the launch sequence at 40 seconds.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk live tweeted the launch as the fateful takeoff approached, only to announce that "a pressurant valve appears to be frozen, so unless it starts operating soon, no launch today." Not long after he said the firm was "offloading propellant, retrying in a few days..."

The Starship was unladen in preparation for a test voyage as part of the wider effort to establish it as the basis for future missions to the moon and mars. While the launch appeared to be a wash to those eagerly watching for the fireworks, SpaceX rumor says the team was actually pleased with the almost-launch. Allowing it to count down acted as a sort of 'live-fire exercise', uncovering a never-before-seen problem in the Starship system that could be addressed and solved before causing real problems in a later launch.

Some space enthusiasts eyed headlines about the "biggest and most powerful rocket ever" with some disbelief, but it's not hyperbole. The Starship has the specs to back it up - even surpassing the longtime king of the heavy lift field, the Saturn V. Starship's payload of 150,000 kg exceeds the Saturn's by 32,000 kg, and NASA's SLS rocket by 55,000 kg. Likewise, Starship's 390-ft height surpasses everything that came before it - the legendary Saturn V is nearly 30 feet shorter. It's understandable that the launch has drawn so much attention, then, as the US aims at becoming the world's premier launch services provider with bigger, better, and heavier kit than anyone else in the world.

SpaceX is no stranger to launch issues, and to the optimist, what is an aborted launch but another lesson learned on the way to space? In the lead up to the first attempt, Musk had promised “Success maybe, excitement guaranteed!”  With things quickly ironed out, and the unplanned dress rehearsal out of the way, SpaceX now aims for a launch on Thursday, April 20th.  If successful, the launch will herald in a return to the heights of american space power at the very head of the pack - and maybe a new golden age in space travel. 

FMI: www.SpaceX.com

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