On Tuesday, the first high-altitude test flight of SpaceX’s futuristic Starship was called off at the last second in Texas. SpaceX [$SPCE] was a single second away from launching a rocketship prototype that CEO Elon Musk is building to chauffeur people to Mars. The intention was to blast “Starship” to a record eight mile altitude, and bring it back to a smooth, vertical landing. [Musk’s Net Worth Eclipses $100B This Year]
“Raptor abort,” was the call from the SpaceX mission control team when an engine abort occurred with just 1.3 seconds left in the countdown, and SpaceX took to its web broadcast to declare it was closing up shop for the day, and said it would stand down “for the day,” likely to reboot for another launch window on Wednesday and Thursday. SpaceX already has piloted five Starship test flights, but these earlier, simpler models have gone no higher than 490 feet.
SpaceX has cornered southeastern Texas in Boca Chica, near the Mexican border, to develop and test its Starships. The company plans to use Starships—the upper stage atop Super Heavy boosters—to transport yuge satellites into orbit around Earth, and send both breathing humans and cargo to the moon and Mars.
“This suborbital flight is designed to test a number of objectives, from how the vehicle’s three Raptor engines perform to the overall aerodynamic entry capabilities of the vehicle (including its body flaps) to how the vehicle manages propellant transition. SN8 will also attempt to perform a landing flip maneuver, which would be a first for a vehicle of this size,” SpaceX said in a statement.