SpaceX Starship high-altitude flight test aborted at T-1 second

SpaceX wasn't to conduct its Starship high-altitude test yesterday. The test was meant to put Starship SN8 much higher into the atmosphere than any Starship vehicle had gone before. However, the launch was auto-aborted at T-1 second by the Raptor engine auto-abort process.SpaceX points out that they have additional launch windows on Wednesday, December 9, and Thursday, December 10. The launch schedule is dynamic, and the company notes it is likely to change. Additional details on a target date and launch time will be offered at a future date. The goal of the suborbital flight was to test several objectives, including how the trio of Raptor engines perform along with the overall aerodynamic capabilities of Starship itself.

SpaceX also planned to test how the vehicle manages propellant transition. The flight test is also scheduled for SN8 to perform a landing flip maneuver, which the company notes is a first for a spacecraft of its size. The Raptor auto-abort was performed literally, and the launch stopped.

SpaceX had a very busy year with Falcon 9 launches putting satellites and other equipment into orbit. The Starship fleet has completed a pair of low-altitude flight tests using SN5 and SN6. Those spacecraft have accumulated more than 16,000 seconds run time across 330 ground engine starts with multiple static fires and four flight tests of the reusable methalox full-flow staged combustion Raptor engines.

SpaceX has constructed 10 Starship prototypes with SN9, almost ready to move to the launchpad. There are two active stands for rapid development testing on the launchpad now. It's unclear at this point which of the alternative dates SpaceX might use to attempt to launch again or what caused the Raptor engine to shut down.