SpaceX will attempt to launch its massive mega-rocket Starship again Thursday after being delayed earlier this week due to a frozen valve.
The launch window begins at 9:28 a.m. ET in South Texas and lasts 62 minutes. If successful, the stainless steel spacecraft will orbit the Earth for about five hours before splashing down near Hawaii.
“Currently all systems are green to launch,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk In a tweet early Thursday morning, it confirmed that the spacecraft On the way to launch when the window opens.
Musk has announced the world’s largest rocket to carry humans to the Moon and Mars. It could be a job to carry the company’s main revenue maker, the Starlink satellites.
Monday’s intended launch was aborted minutes before the scheduled liftoff due to a frozen valve. The problem occurred with the spacecraft’s super-heavy booster, which uses 33 engines working in sync to lift the 400-foot rocket off the ground.
The decision to use such a large number of engines — more than any other rocket — is a trade-off, says Paulo Lozano, director of MIT’s Space Propulsion Laboratory.
Although it’s necessary to lift payloads weighing 250 tons, “having that number of rocket engines firing at once — it’s really difficult. I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge,” Lozano said.
Adding to the challenges is the choice of fuel: methane. SpaceX wants to test methane because it is cheaper to produce and easier to handle than hydrogen, the fuel choice for high-powered rockets.
But to use methane, the rocket’s oxidizer must be cooled to temperatures too low to operate, which caused the valve to freeze on Monday.
“This was a great discovery by the Countdown team, and that’s why we have Countdown,” said Kate Tice, SpaceX quality systems engineer. “We’ve learned a lot in the last 48 hours and we’re ready to give it back.”
SpaceX seems to understand the risks associated with such a monumental test launch. Its Some of the rockets exploded during the test A growth strategy that has worked well in the past, over the long term.