CEO Elon Musk says that SpaceX has delayed Starship serial number 11’s (SN11) high-altitude launch debut from Friday to Monday to best ensure that the company can “land & fully recover” the 50-meter-tall steel rocket.
First and foremost, the weekend will allow SpaceX times time for “additional checkouts” and scour Starship SN11 and the data it’s produced during testing for any red flags or minor issues. While plans for a same-day static fire and launch didn’t pan out on Friday, March 26th, SpaceX did manage the first half, firing up just one of Starship’s three Raptors to verify the health of the replacement engine after a Thursday Raptor swap. The test marked the first time SpaceX has intentionally fired up just one of the Raptors installed on a three-engine Starship prototype, so the delay will provide extra time to ensure that all three are still looking good.
Standing down SN11 until probably Monday. Additional checkouts are needed. Doing our best to land & fully recover.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2021
The weather in Boca Chica, Texas has also taken a turn for the worse in the last few days, so the extra few days will also (hopefully) allow time for wind, visibility, and precipitation conditions to improve. According to Musk, Starship SN11 is now scheduled to fly as early as Monday “afternoon” and, as usual, SpaceX will offer live coverage of the fourth high-altitude launch and landing attempt beginning a few minutes before liftoff.
With a little luck, the Starship prototype will be able to continue a trend of iterative improvement and one-up Starship SN10 with a slightly softer landing and no explosion minutes after touchdown. Stay tuned for updates both here and on SpaceX’s social media platforms to catch the official webcast.