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SpaceX delays 2nd Starship test launch until Saturday

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the company had to postpone the launch by at least one day to replace a grid fin actuator on the rocket.
SpaceX delays 2nd Starship test launch until Saturday
Posted at 10:14 AM, Nov 17, 2023

SpaceX is shifting plans for the second test flight of its massive Starship rocket that is designed to eventually return NASA astronauts back to the surface of the moon. 

The private space company had planned the launch date for Friday, but founder and CEO Elon Musk said the company had to delay it by at least one day to replace a grid fin actuator on the 400-foot rocket. Grid fins are used to steer and stabilize the rocket during flight.

Starship is now scheduled to launch from Boca Chica, Texas, on Saturday during a 20-minute window that opens at 8 a.m. ET. It will be streamed live on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter that Musk also owns.

If successful, the rocket will make a partial trip around the Earth, crossing over the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans before crashing into the waters near Hawaii. The test flight is expected to last about one and a half hours. 

SEE MORE: SpaceX and NASA launched 4 astronauts from 4 nations into space

This will mark the second test launch of Starship after the first in April ended in an explosion about four minutes after takeoff. No astronauts were on board and nobody was injured, but the launch pad suffered significant damage from the rocket's 33 main engines during liftoff.

The Federal Aviation Administration completed its safety review of the second launch a month ago and on Wednesday granted SpaceX its launch license. 

Starship is billed as a "fully reusable transportation system," and SpaceX has a $3 billion contract with NASA to use it to land astronauts back on the lunar surface by as early as 2025. To date, SpaceX has already successfully launched 42 astronauts — including eight crews for NASA — into space using its much smaller Falcon 9 rocket.


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