The imposing stainless steel rocket ignited three Raptor thrusters in a brief “static firing” test on a platform at SpaceX's Starbase facility in south Texas near the village of Boca Chica.
Booster Number 3, or BN3, as this Super Heavy is known, is the latest in a series of prototypes for the show. Starship from SpaceX, which aims to develop a fully reusable launch system for trips to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
“Full duration shot of 3 Raptors on the Super Heavy rocket,” wrote SpaceX CEO Elon Musk late Monday night on Twitter.
When asked about the chances of further testing the rocket, Musk said, "Depending on the progress with Booster 4, we can try a nine-engine firing on Booster 3."
Nine engines sounds like a lot, but that's already the amount SpaceX uses in the first stage of each Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon Heavy rocket, which consists of three thrusters and a top stage, fires 27 engines together during takeoff. The Super Heavy plus Starship set, in turn, is expected to use more than 30 engines during launch.
Super Heavy 3 will not fly into space
Designed to be a reusable first stage to transport the massive Starship into orbit, the Super Heavy is 70 meters tall and will eventually carry a 50 m spacecraft on top when SpaceX attempts the first. orbital flight still this year.
In May, SpaceX successfully launched and landed a Starship vehicle on a test flight that reached an altitude of 10 km. The company said it plans to launch the first orbital flight with Starship by the end of August, pending tests with the Super Heavy rocket.
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Musk stated that the Booster 3 rocket will likely not fly into space, but will be used for ground testing.
Its successor, Booster 4, would be the first to launch a Starship. This test flight would launch a prototype SpaceX Starbase facility in Texas to a target zone near the island of Kauai, Hawaii, as the Super Heavy rocket crashes into the Gulf of Mexico.
Eventually SpaceX hopes to recover its Super Heavy and Starship vehicles for later reuse, as they regularly do with their Falcon 9.
SpaceX's Starship and Super Heavy rockets form the core of the company's plans for its future deep space missions. NASA chose the SpaceX spacecraft to land astronauts on the Moon as part of the agency's Artemis program, and SpaceX has already sold another spacecraft flight around the Moon to Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa.
Musk wants to use Starship vehicles to help send astronauts to Mars and said the spacecraft could be fully operational by 2023 if the tests are successful.
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