SpaceX Starship rocket test is an important step towards the company’s maiden orbital flight.
The Super Heavy 33 Raptor rocket from SpaceX was tested for 10 seconds as it approaches the beginning of its orbital battle.
In a test-firing on Thursday, SpaceX’s towering Super Heavy booster, which makes up one-half of the Starship rocket system, momentarily roared to life for the first time, bringing the massive moon and Mars vehicle closer to its first orbital mission in the coming months.
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, tweeted shortly after the test, which was streamed live, that 31 of the Super Heavy’s 33 Raptor rocket engines ignited for approximately 10 seconds at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
According to a tweet from Musk, “Team shut off 1 engine right before start & 1 stopped itself, so 31 engines fired overall.” But there are still enough engines to enter orbit.
The 23-story rocket remained fastened in place vertically atop a platform next to a launch tower as the engines fired amid a boom of orange flames and billowing clouds of gas.
The cornerstone of Musk’s plans to someday inhabit Mars, the vehicle will be linked to its upper-stage Starship spacecraft and reach heights of 394 feet (120 metres), surpassing the Statue of Liberty. However, the plans call for it to first take the lead in NASA’s revived lunar exploration programme.
Before attempting to launch the potent, next-generation rocket for the first time in an unmanned space mission, it was unknown whether SpaceX will choose to undertake another static-fire test of the Super Heavy with all 33 engines.
According to SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, that launch, a test mission that would take off from Texas and land off the coast of Hawaii, might occur “in the next month or so,” albeit the precise flight date depended on the results of Thursday’s static fire test.
Starship prototypes can be seen on May 22, 2022, at the SpaceX South Texas launch facility in Brownsville, Texas, USA. taken on May 22, 2022. Veronica G. Cardenas for Reuters
Remember that this initial flight is actually just a test, Shotwell remarked. “Not blowing up the launch pad is the true objective; that is a success,”
A Super Heavy booster’s engine part exploded in flames during a previous test explosion in July 2022. Prior to that, SpaceX had tested the ability of its rocket to land by launching the top half of Starship in a series of “hop” flights to a height of around 6 miles. Everybody but one crashed.
According to Livestream commentators for the space media organisation NASA Spaceflight, Thursday’s test-firing of the 31 Raptor engines appeared to set a new record for the most thrust ever produced by a single rocket – roughly 17 million pounds as opposed to 10.5 million pounds for the Russian N1 and 8 million pounds for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. They said it also represented the simultaneous firing of more rocket engines than the N1’s 30.
The thrust from the first stage of the Saturn V, the illustrious NASA rocket that launched people to the moon during the Apollo programme in the 1960s and 1970s, will also be far outclassed by Super Heavy’s 33 engines.
As part of NASA’s multibillion-dollar Artemis programme, which will employ the SpaceX rocket to launch the first crew of people to the moon since 1972, Starship’s development is partially supported by a $3 billion contract from NASA.
The RS-25 rocket engine, produced by Aerojet Rocketdyne and tested by NASA engineers in Mississippi on Wednesday, will power the SLS on upcoming flights.
The two spacecraft leading the Artemis program—which, according to NASA, aims to create a permanent base on the moon as a stepping stone to human exploration of Mars—are SLS and Starship.
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