SpaceX’s hulking Super Heavy booster, half of the company’s Starship rocket system, went live for the first time on Thursday during a test run that brings the giant Mars rover one step closer to its orbital flight in the coming months. .
Thirty-one of Super Heavy’s 33 Raptor rockets fired in about 10 seconds at the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas, the company’s CEO Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the test, showing during life. The team shut down engine 1 shortly before start and 1 shut down, so 31 engines started in total,” Musk tweeted. “And still enough engines to reach orbit!”
The lights blazed with orange fire and the steam engine hissed as the 23-story rocket continued to lock itself into a vertical position on the platform next to the escape tower.
When combined with its Starship aircraft on the roof, the entire vehicle will be taller than the Statue of Liberty at 394 feet (120 meters) long, making the center of Musk’s desire to rule in March. But the plan is that it will first work leading up to Nasa’s new human exploration of the moon.
It is unclear whether SpaceX will decide to conduct another flight test of the Super Heavy, with all 33 engines, before the company tries to launch the next-generation rocket powered for the first time on an unmanned flight into space. The launch, a test mission from Texas to the coast of Hawaii, could happen “in the next month or so,” SpaceX CEO Gwynne Shotwell told a press conference on Wednesday. although the exact date of the flight depends. and Thursday’s results. static fire test.
“Keep in mind that this first flight was really a test flight,” Shotwell said. “The real goal is not to blow the whistle, that’s success.”
The previous test of the Super Heavy booster in July 2022 ended with the vehicle’s engine compartment bursting into flames. Prior to this, SpaceX had tested the upper half of the Starship in several “hop” flights at a height of about six kilometers to demonstrate the rocket’s landing capabilities. All but one failed.
Thursday’s test of Raptor 31 engines appeared to set a new record for the maximum thrust produced by a single rocket – around 17 million pounds compared to Russia’s N1 million 10.5 million and 8 million pounds for Nasa’s Space Launch System (SLS), live . Spokesmen from NASA Spaceflight said. They said it was also the number of rocket engines that had been fired at one time, more than 30 N1 engines.
In addition, the Super Heavy’s 33 engines will exceed the thrust of the first stage of the Saturn V, the legendary rocket that NASA sent men to the moon during the Apollo programs of the 1960s and 1970s. Starship development is being funded in part by a US$3 billion contract from NASA, which plans to use SpaceX rockets over the next few years to land the first crew of astronauts and the moon since 1972, in the corner of billions of US. Artemis program dollars. event.
On Wednesday, NASA engineers in Mississippi tested the company’s prototype rocket, the Aerojet Rocketdyne-built RS-25, which will power SLS and future flights. SLS and Starship are the two current spacecraft in the first phase of the Artemis program, which Nasa says is intended to establish a permanent base on the moon as a stepping stone to human exploration of Mars.