SpaceX aborted a test of the company’s Starhopper vehicle just seconds after the ignition of its single Raptor engine. The Starhopper vehicle is a prototype of the company’s super-heavy-lift Starship spacecraft and is designed to test key systems and technology.
The test was conducted at the SpaceX Boca Chica facility in Texas. It was meant to be the vehicle’s first untethered flight with its Raptor engine expected to fire at 80 percent of its capacity lifting the vehicle to an altitude of 20 meters (65 feet). However, just seconds after the vehicle’s engine fired, it cut out suddenly aborting the launch. The Starhopper vehicle responded by spewing fire from vents towards the top of its body in a dramatic venting of excess propellant.
A second attempt was made following a lengthy recycle period but was it was ultimately aborted minutes before ignition.
Replying to a comment on Twitter moments after the aborted launch, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk indicated it was likely due to high chamber pressure caused by colder than expected propellant. Musk did not give any further details or indicate a possible date for another attempt.
Yesterday’s aborted test is just the first test in a series planned to test the Starhopper vehicle to its limits. “This specific test is one in a series of tests, designed to push the limits of the vehicle as quickly as possible, to learn all that we can as fast and safely as we can,” said certification engineer Kate Tice during a live webcast of the test.