SpaceX launch scrubbed: Starship SN9 test flight delayed due to high wind speeds

SpaceX Starship explodes whilst attempting to land during test

SpaceX fans worldwide paid close attention to the company’s Boca Chica facility in South Texas on Monday. Standing on the launch pad and cleared for flight, the Starship SN9 prototype was due to launch on its first 6.2 to 7.8 miles (10km to 12.5km) test flight. The launch appears to have been called off, however, as strong winds in the launch area were a cause for concern.

Michael Baylor of tweeted: “The wind is the primary issue preventing a flight today.

“Starship SN9 could be in good shape for Tuesday’s launch window which opens at 8am Central.”

SpaceX has two more launch opportunities this week, should more delays get in the way of SN9 flying.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued flight restrictions for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with Monday’s so-called note to airmen (NOTAM) now scrubbed.

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The remaining restrictions are in place between 2pm and 11.59pm GMT (8am and 6.59pm CST) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The NOTAMs designate a no-fly zone around Boca Chica Beach, near Brownsville.

The US Coast Guard has also designated an official hazard zone extending from SpaceX’s facility and into the Gulf of Mexico during the launch hours.

Mariners in the area have been warned of possible dangers such as debris, fires and blast pressure during the test flight.

Starship will take to the skies more than a month after its previous iteration, SN8, spectacularly crash landed.

The prototype spacecraft will fly to an altitude of at least 32,000ft after which it will pitch sideways and fall to the ground belly-side down.

The manoeuvre should slow the rocket down without the use of engines and SN9 will be guided by the four fins mounted on its side.

Then, just before the rocket hits the ground, it will flip upright again and attempt a soft landing.

SpaceX hopes to perform the same manoeuvre on Starship’s first flight to Mars.

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SpaceX conduct static fire engine test on Starship SN9

But the SN9 prototype has stood on the launchpad for a month now and SpaceX fans are anxious to see it fly.

The test flight has already suffered from a number of delays, including an unexpected engine swap.

One SpaceX fan tweeted: “The conditions are best on Tuesday so the most chance for SN9 to succeed is Tuesday so in a way it’s now or never for Spacex and not having SN9 fly after a month being on the pad doesn’t seem very good for SpaceX’s hope for quick progression and SN10 fully assembled just waiting.”

Another person said: “The SN9 Test Flight is a very important milestone in the ambitious Starship mission.

“The Sooner the prototypes get tested, the sooner the final model of the Starship goes into manufacturing.”

SpaceX is developing Starship as a fully reusable spacecraft capable of reaching the Moon, Mars and possibly beyond.

The 160ft (50m) spacecraft will launch on top of the Super Heavy booster rocket, forming a two-stage launch vehicle.

SpaceX said: “Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the ability to carry in excess of 100 metric tonnes to Earth orbit.”

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