SpaceX Starship launch fails at last second in first major test of Mars-bound spacecraft

Elon Musk hopes to use the spacecraft to send the first humans to Mars within four years

Anthony Cuthbertson@ADCuthbertson
Wednesday 09 December 2020 18:08
SpaceX aborts Starship flight at last second
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SpaceX has attempted to perform the first high-altitude flight test of its Mars-bound spacecraft Starship.

Starship SN8 was ready to liftoff after days of delays, but as the countdown reached zero there appeared to be an issue with one of the engines. SpaceX scrubbed the launch but could try again on Wednesday.

“Raptor auto-abort at T-1 second,” SpaceX tweeted.

Follow live updates from the Starship flight test

The 12.5km test of the SN8 Starship marks a major milestone towards Elon Musk’s ambition to send the first humans to Mars by 2024.

Prior to the flight test, Mr Musk had said there was only a one in three chance of it succeeding.

The objective was not to demonstrate a successful working spacecraft, SpaceX said, but to test certain aspects of the latest Starship prototype.

“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,” SpaceX stated on its website ahead of the launch.

“SN8 will also attempt to perform a landing flip manoeuvre, which would be a first for a vehicle of this size.”

Starship has attracted considerable excitement, with close to 150,000 people tuning in to a live stream of the latest attempt.

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