An engine failure forced SpaceX to stop testing at the last second Tuesday as it prepared to launch its “Starship” prototype SN5 and conduct a brief suborbital “jump” test,media BGR reported. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said engine problems triggered an automatic abort. SpaceX plans to try another test soon.
The company has a good long launch opportunity to test its starship hardware within that opportunity, but waits until the 12-hour window to start testing the spacecraft. Musk tweeted that testing will begin soon, but the Raptor engine in the prototype is not up to the task.
Just moments before the launch, Musk said, “a Raptor turbo pump spin start valve did not open.” The fault caused the spacecraft to “trigger an automatic abort.” This is a frustrating question, but Musk noted that the team will “find out why and retest it tomorrow.”
As Teslarati points out, the fault appears to be similar to the one that stopped static fire testing on raptor engines at the end of July. At the time, Musk wrote on Twitter: “The fuel rotary valve is not open. Tomorrow will be fixed and try again. In addition, some strange TVC hydraulic pump behavior. “
There is clearly good news and bad news here. The bad news is that the Starship prototype didn’t take off as planned. It’s a minor setback, but SpaceX will find a way to fix it. The good news is that SpaceX’s auto-abort function appears to be working well, as both failed engine ignitions are triggered by automated systems designed to protect spacecraft and nearby people from potential dangers.