The clocked ticked down to zero, but when it came to go, SpaceX’s Starhopper vehicle failed to lift off from its launch pad at Boca Chica Beach in Texas.
After the last-second abort, Elon Musk’s rocket company scrubbed plans to fly the Raptor engine equipped vehicle to 150 meters (492 ft). SpaceX said it could try again as early as Tuesday.
It would have been the second flight test for Starhopper. The vehicle flew to about 20 meters altitude on July 25.
Starhopper is a test vehicle to develop technologies for SpaceX’s planned SuperHeavy Starship — a fully-reusable rocket and spacecraft system designed for human trips to the moon and Mars.
A second Starhopper is being built in Florida for testing there.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave permission for a flight to only 150 meters (492 ft) instead of the 200 meters (656 ft) that SpaceX requested. It also raised the liability insurance requirement for the flight from $30 million to $100 million.
Residents of nearby Boca Chica Village have been told to stay outside during the test in case an “over pressure event” (i.e., explosion) breaks windows in their homes.
SpaceX’s Starhopper test vehicle aborted its first attempt at an untethered hop on Wednesday at the company’s test site at Boca Chica beach in Texas.
The company’s webcast showed a cloud of smoke rising from the vehicle indicating the engine had shut down right after ignition. Controllers atttempted to recycle the hop attempt, but ultimately aborted for the day.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the abort occurred because of abnormally high amount of pressure in engine’s combustion chamber.
The test vehicle seemed to survive just fine. It looked worse than it was.