“Basically a human-made sandstorm,” Mr. Musk said. “But we don’t want to do that again.”
Instead of the rocket’s 33 engines firing directly onto the concrete below the rocket at liftoff, a large water-cooled steel plate will be installed. Mr. Musk said the plate was not ready for last week’s launch.
He said the next rocket and repairs to the launchpad would be ready within six to eight weeks. However, the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates rocket launches, is investigating the events of the first launch and will have to be satisfied with SpaceX’s adjustments and improvements before allowing another Starship flight.
The next launch would attempt to accomplish the goals of the first mission — for the Starship vehicle to successfully detach from the booster and reach space before circling most of the planet and landing in the waters off Hawaii.
Mr. Musk did not promise full success on the second try. He said he expected four or five more Starship launches this year. “We’ve probably got an 80 percent probability of reaching orbit this year,” Mr. Musk said. “I don’t want to tempt fate, but I think close to 100 percent chance of reaching orbit within 12 months.”
Mr. Musk said SpaceX was spending “$2 billion-ish” on Starship this year and would not need additional investments for development of the rocket.