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SpaceX 'Starship' launch postponed until Saturday
SpaceX 'Starship' launch postponed until Saturday
by AFP Staff Writers
Starbase, United States (AFP) Nov 16, 2023

SpaceX has pushed back by one day the long awaited second launch of its next-generation Starship rocket because of technical issues, the company's CEO Elon Musk said Thursday.

The space world is buzzing with anticipation ahead of the orbital test flight, originally scheduled for Friday and now due to take off Saturday, after a first attempt in April ended in a massive explosion.

"We need to replace a grid fin actuator, so launch is postponed to Saturday," Musk posted on his social media site X, formerly Twitter.

Grid fins are aerodynamic controls used by SpaceX to adjust and stabilize its rockets during their descent phase so they can land upright. Actuators refer to the machine parts used to impart motion.

On April 20, SpaceX was forced to blow up an uncrewed Starship rocket four minutes after it blasted off from the Starbase launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, because the first-stage booster did not separate from the spacecraft above it.

The rocket disintegrated into a ball of fire and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, sending a dust cloud over a town several miles (kilometers) away.

After a monthslong investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday finally cleared SpaceX to try again, despite objections by conservation groups and an ongoing lawsuit by them against the regulator for allegedly failing to carry out sufficient environmental impact assessments.

The launch window opens at 7:00 am (1300 GMT) local time.

SpaceX envisages using Starship, a fully reusable spaceship that produces more thrust than any other in history, as a vehicle to eventually colonize Mars. In the near term, NASA is waiting for SpaceX to deliver a modified version to act as a lunar lander for its Artemis missions to go back to the Moon.

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