SpaceX prepared to launch the biggest and most powerful rocket on Thursday, working nonstop after the first shot at a test flight fizzled earlier in the week.
The nearly 400-foot (120-metre) Starship was poised to blast off from the southern tip of Texas, near the Mexican border. SpaceX’s Elon Musk gave 50-50 odds of the spacecraft reaching orbit on its debut.
None of the rocket will be recovered. Instead, if all goes well, the first-stage booster, dubbed Super Heavy, would drop into the Gulf of Mexico.
The spacecraft on top would continue eastward, passing over the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans before ditching near Hawaii. The whole flight, if successful, would last just 1 1/2 hours.
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The company plans to use Starship to send people and cargo to the moon and, eventually, Mars. NASA has reserved a Starship for its next moonwalking team, and rich tourists are already booking lunar flybys.
A stuck booster valve scrapped Monday’s try. Hundreds of space fans returned to the launch site at Boca Chica Beach on the eve of the second launch attempt, snapping more selfies.
“I’ve been waiting for this, really, for years,” said Bob Drwal, a retired engineer who drove down from Chicago with wife Donna.