First attempt of Starship test flight postponed
Frozen valve forces SpaceX to abort the launch; the company decided April 20 for next launch attempt.
The first flight test of SpaceX's Starship/SuperHeavy system was postponed today, April 17, due to a temperature problem in a valve in the first stage pressurization system. This would be the first flight of the Starship S24 spacecraft and the Super Heavy B7 rocket – the most powerful launch vehicle in the world, with 4,966 tons of mass and a capacity of 150 tons in Earth orbit. The countdown reached 5 minutes when it was announced that there was a problem with the valve and that the takeoff attempt would be converted into a full refueling test test (wet dress rehearsal or WDR), and then the rocket would be unloaded and recycled for the next occasion. .
In the final minutes of the countdown, the telemetry indicated the presence of condensed water that froze in the pressurization circuit of the first stage tanks; this in turn reached a return valve in the system, which jammed due to the low temperature.
The first stage is expected to separate from the second stage above Gulf of Mexico area and fall into the water near the coast, while the Starship will enter a fractional orbit. Shortly thereafter, the spacecraft will re-enter Earth's atmosphere and crash into the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. The weather forecast shows moderate winds coming from the east, temperatures above 20°C and clear skies with high relative humidity.
Previously, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, expressed some expressions about the launch:
“There is a high probability of delay, given the complexity of the rocket and the consequences of an error. We will be very careful with this release. If something goes wrong before launch, then a lot will go wrong afterwards…” “What is the measure of success in the first Starship launch? Don't blow up the launch pad!” “Most likely, the first launch will not be successful. If that means going into orbit.” “The rocket has 33 engines, and if even one of them fails, it will look like a box of grenades, very large grenades!”