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SpaceX called off today’s Starship launch due to a 1st-stage frozen valve issue


Everything was looking good for a launch today until at around T-17 minutes the 1st stage (Super Heavy booster) team reported a pressurization issue.

Around T-9 minutes, the Starship flight director called off today’s launch attempt (a scrub). However, the SpaceX team continued the countdown to T-40 seconds to convert today’s launch into a wet dress rehearsal (WDR) to collect as much data as possible for the next launch attempt.

According to the SpaceX engineers conducting the live stream of the event, it will take at least 48 hours to recycle the launch system.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also confirmed today’s Starship scrub via an official tweet. “A pressurant valve appears to be frozen, so unless it starts operating soon, no launch today,” he tweeted.

“Learned a lot today, now offloading propellant, retrying in a few days,” Musk further stated.

Elon Musk announcing Starship launch scrub on Monday 17th April 2023.

SpaceX also shared today’s Starship flight cancelation from the company’s official Twitter account. “Standing down from today’s flight test attempt; team is working towards next available opportunity,” SpaceX tweeted about the scrubbed status of the Starship orbital flight test (OFT).

SpaceX continued loading propellant into Starship 1st stage till T-3 minutes. A total of 10 million pounds of liquid methane (the fuel) and liquid oxygen (oxidizer) was loaded into Starship 1st and 2nd stages along with the Starship header tanks.

There were no landing legs attached to both Starship 24 or Super Heavy Booster 7 for today’s launch because they were intended for a hard landing in the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico respectively.

Today’s scheduled orbital flight test came after a long list of tests that Starship and Super Heavy have been going through. The more recent and intense one was the 33-engine static fire (finally done with 31 engines due to technical issues).

33 Raptor engines installed beneath the Super Heavy rocket booster. Credit: SpaceX.

During the live stream, SpaceX shared some amazing pictures of the Raptor engines installed both on the 1st and 2nd stage of Starship. The view of the 33 engines from the bottom of the mounted Super Heavy Booster 7 rocket is particularly stunning to watch.

Out of these 33 Raptor engines, 20 are installed in the outer ring. The rest of the 13 in the center are gimballing engines that help with the orientation of the Super Heavy booster on its return to Earth from orbit.

A look from the internal camera of the aft section of the 2nd stage Starship showing sea-level Raptor engines (center) and vacuum-level engines (sides) from the Starship launch attempt on Monday 17th April 2023. Credit: SpaceX.

Finally, SpaceX had a ton of learning from today’s launch attempt. Hopefully, we will have the news of another Starship launch attempt in the next few days, so stay tuned.


However, a scrub is always better than a RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly). Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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By Iqtidar Ali

Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii

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