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Flight control hardware issue delays Starship's launch

super heavy booster
A view of the four grid fins near the top of the Super Heavy booster (Credit: Stephen Clark/Ars Technica)

SpaceX have announced a delay in the second Starship launch, now set for no earlier than Saturday, November 18. This postponement is due to the replacement of a grid fin actuator on the launch stack.

The upcoming weekend holds promise for space enthusiasts as SpaceX prepares for the second test flight of its massive Starship rocket from the Starbase facility in southern Texas. The launch is scheduled for Saturday, November 18, within a 20-minute window starting at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT).

starship launch profile
Launch profile (Credit: SpaceX)

The launch webcast is scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. EST (1230 GMT), with Starship's engines chilling around 10 minutes before ignition, as outlined in SpaceX's mission description. Ten seconds prior to liftoff, the water deluge system beneath Starbase's orbital launch mount will be activated to mitigate the force of Super Heavy's 33 Raptors, safeguarding the launch infrastructure.

Similar to the April 20 test flight, the upcoming mission aims for Starship's two stages to separate around two minutes and 41 seconds after liftoff, utilizing a "hot staging" technique. Super Heavy will execute multiple engine burns to guide itself to a Gulf of Mexico splashdown approximately seven minutes post-launch.

The Starship upper stage will continue its ascent, reaching near-orbital velocity, and after approximately 90 minutes, it will land in the Pacific near Hawaii for an "exciting landing," according to SpaceX's mission description.

Regardless of the outcome—whether a complete success, total failure, or something in between—SpaceX anticipates additional Starship launches in the near future. The company is actively developing multiple Starship vehicles, intending to leverage insights from each flight.

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