SpaceX was forced to abort the test launch of its spaceship Starhopper from its Boca Chica site in South Texas this Wednesday. The Starhopper, which is a prototype of the next-generation Starship hopper spacecraft, was supposed to be launched 20 meters (65 feet), into the air before it returned to land by using its own power and on-board technology.
What should have been the spacecraft’s first untethered launch, following two tether ones this April, however, was not to happen.
While the Starhopper’s single Raptor engine fired up at the countdown to T-minus zero, it failed to leave the ground simultaneously. To add to the woe, a sudden appearance of flames was seen near the top of the craft, with smoke billowing around it.
This failed launch follows shortly after SpaceX had to abort the launch of Falcon 9 due to bad weather conditions at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Falcon 9 was supposed to be launched to send supplies to the International Space Station.
It appears as though we have had an abort on today’s test. As I mentioned before, this is a development program — today was a test flight designed to test the boundaries of the vehicle – Kate Tice, Engineer, SpaceX
And the setback may not be a complete surprise owing to the failure of the static-fire test of the Starship hopper’s engine ( fueled by liquid methane and liquid oxygen) a week back. In the event, a similar situation occurred where a large fireball was seen to engulf the spacecraft. No substantial damage, however, was done to the craft owing to its high-strength stainless steel build.