SpaceX aborts South Texas rocket launch attempt at last second

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SpaceX’s SN8 rocket aborted its launch at 1.3 seconds before takeoff on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2020. (Web shot)

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — With 1.3 seconds to go and the rocket full of fuel, SpaceX aborted its scheduled rocket launch of the SN8 Starship prototype at its South Texas launch facility near Boca Chica Beach.

The 16-story rocket almost launched at 4:35 p.m. MST, but its raptor engine conducted an auto-abort with just over 1 second left, SpaceX officials said.

White vapor can be seen from the base of SpaceX’s SN8 Starship rocket two minutes before the scheduled launch on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. The launch was aborted with 1.3 seconds prior to take off. (Web shot)

SpaceX announced a few minutes later they were “standing down for the day” as its FAA window to launch was sent to expire by 5 p.m.

South Texas has been full of visitors for the past week as dozens of people have come daily to try to see the test launch, which has been delayed since Nov. 30. 

White steam vapor could be seen venting from the base of the rocket around 4:10 p.m., about 30 minutes prior to what people watching throughout the world hoped would be a solid attempt.

SpaceX is attempting to launch the rocket for its highest flight to date and for the first time with its side fins and nose cargo cone. If the mission is successful, it will lift of with its three engines, reach a velocity and then coast up to 12.5 kilometers, or about nine miles in altitude, and then do a belly flop to test aerodynamics before relighting the raptor engines, performing a maneuver and then landing on a landing pad built on the facility.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said on social media that there are so many variables to this mission and many doubt all will run smoothly in one test run.

Musk tweeted on Monday that he was visiting the launch pad in South Texas for this historic test launch.

The FAA has approved a test launch could be conducted Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.

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