Elon Musk has said that the destruction of the launch pad is his biggest concern for launching the spacecraft.
The launch pad would melt if the spacecraft “fireballed” on launch day, he said.
SpaceX is expected to launch Starship on Monday, but Musk has warned of possible delays.
The spacecraft is expected to take off for the first time on Monday, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk warned against people hoping for a successful launch.
During a Spaces Twitter session on Sunday, Musk said there is a high probability that SpaceX will abort and postpone the launch from its Starbase facility in Texas.
His biggest concern was that a “fireball” accident could melt the launch pad if one of the engines failed. Musk said such an accident would melt the steel and destroy the area from which the rocket took off. He said this was going to be a “very bad day”.
Musk said it would take SpaceX several months to rebuild the launch pad if Starship exploded and melted it.
He previously hinted in an interview at a Morgan Stanley conference in March that if this rocket — made up of Ship 24 and Booster 7 — detonates, other spaceships could be waiting in the wings.
Any other issue that doesn’t damage the launch pad after launch is considered a win, he added.
“I would lower expectations,” he said. “If we get far enough away from the launch pad before something goes wrong, I think I’d count that as a success. Just don’t blow up the launch pad.”
Launching the massive spaceship is an engineering feat
The billionaire described Starship, which is expected to fly to the Moon and Mars, as a “very complicated giant rocket” and the largest spacecraft ever made.
“It may take a few kicks of the can here before it reaches orbit,” he said.
A failed launch on Monday doesn’t mean it would be the end of Starship. Speaking to Insider in February, aeronautics professor Olivier de Weck said, “Keep in mind that this is just one test out of hundreds. And if anything, SpaceX has shown us that they learn a lot from failure.” he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday granted SpaceX a launch license to fly Starship into orbit. After the license, SpaceX tweeted Starship was expected to launch as soon as Monday.
But Musk has previously been skeptical of Starship’s successful first-time launch.
During an interview at the Morgan Stanley Conference in March, Musk said that Starship had “a 50 percent chance of reaching orbit,” but added that it was “guaranteeing excitement” and wouldn’t be boring.
Musk said in March, however, that even if Ship 24 didn’t make it, the prospect of another successful launch within the year was substantially higher, about 80%.
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