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SpaceX attempted to launch the first-ever Starship to orbit on April 17, liftoff was scheduled for 8:20 a.m. Central Time (CT). However, when Starbase teams started to load the fully-integrated vehicle with cryogenic liquid methane and liquid oxygen they detected an issue at just 9 minutes to go in the countdown. –“A pressurant valve appears to be frozen, so unless it starts operating soon, no launch today,” shared SpaceX founder Elon Musk via Twitter at 8:11 a.m. CT before liftoff. The valve issue was related to the pressurization system on the Super Heavy rocket (first-stage). Mission Control decided to continue with the launch countdown as a Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) without igniting the engines. “The point of the countdown is to allow the teams to progress that T-0 [zero] time in a coordinated fashion and really to unveil any issues prior to the ignition sequence. So the countdown did its job today,” said SpaceX's Kate Tice during the launch broadcast.
“Learned a lot today, now offloading propellant, retrying in a few days…” said Musk as it happened. Now, excitement builds in South Texas as SpaceX’s first Starship orbital launch attempt is postponed for at least 48 hours. Musk previously teased that Starship could liftoff on 4/20 (April 20) which is a cannabis culture joke he frequently makes, and it looks like it may happen that day if there are no more technical hurdles. UPDATE: "Teams are working towards Thursday, April 20 for the first flight test of a fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket," announced SpaceX.
Today, hundreds of space enthusiasts and SpaceX employees gathered at South Padre Island, Texas, to safely view the launch at ‘Isla Blanca’ where SpaceX’s Starbase launch tower at Boca Chica Beach is clearly visible from across a ship channel. A TESMANIAN journalist had the opportunity to attend the first launch attempt. They shared a short video of the 394-foot-tall Starship under clear skies across the beautiful ocean, linked below. “As we venture into new territory, we continue to appreciate all of the support and encouragement we have received from those who share our vision of a future where humanity is out exploring among the stars!” said SpaceX.
A lot of people showed up to watch the Starship orbital launch attempt. pic.twitter.com/rz0RYfXfKR— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) April 17, 2023
During the long-awaited orbital flight, Super Heavy Booster 7 will propel Starship SN24 to orbit. Spectators at South Padre Island will hear a loud ‘sonic boom’ when it lifts off with the intense power of 33 Raptor V2 engines. Soon after the booster propels it to orbit it will return with a controlled landing in the Gulf of Mexico, while Starship SN24 continues its flight in space. People at the Island will be able to see Booster 7’s return if the sky is not cloudy. If all goes according to plan, Starship will perform an hour-long voyage in orbit around planet Earth and complete the mission with a soft landing in the ocean off the coast of Hawaii.
SpaceX has only ever flown a Starship with three Raptors that were really loud, so 33 of them are expected to be extremely loud. Collectively, the 33 Raptor V2’s are capable of generating over 16.5 million pounds of thrust at full throttle! The upcoming orbital test will provide SpaceX engineers with vital data to improve the spacecraft and rocket. “With a test such as this, success is measured by how much we can learn, which will inform and improve the probability of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances development of Starship,” said the company.
With a test such as this, success is measured by how much we can learn, which will inform and improve the probability of success in the future as SpaceX rapidly advances development of Starship pic.twitter.com/2tf4jx3qRL— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 17, 2023
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All Featured Images Source: Tesmanian.com (photographer Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo)
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.