SpaceX fires up its Super Heavy Starship rocket booster for the first time
The Super Heavy booster gets lit for the first time.
The Super Heavy booster gets lit for the first time.SpaceX
While billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos battle for a place in history as pioneers of space tourism, Elon Musk and SpaceX have just ignited the rocket that could one day send humans to Mars.
On Monday, SpaceX lit up its Super Heavy booster for the first time, at the company's Starbase rocket development site in Boca Chica, Texas. The hold-down test firing lasted for just a few seconds, but Musk described it on Twitter as a "full test duration firing of 3 Raptors on Super Heavy Booster!"
Full test duration firing of 3 Raptors on Super Heavy Booster!-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2021
This is a scaled down test prototype of Super Heavy, with the final model expected to have as many as 32 Raptors, allowing it to lift heavy payloads beyond Earth's gravity-well, boosting them to the moon, Mars and perhaps beyond. This big booster is designed to be mated to SpaceX's Starship, which is also being tested in Texas.
You may recall seeing images of a few early Starship prototypes landing hard after high altitude test flights and exploding violently.
From the lab to your inbox. Get the latest science stories from CNET every week. When the whole system is ready, the idea is that a Starship loaded with cargo or passengers will be placed atop a Super Heavy, which will boost it out of our atmosphere.
The Super Heavy can then return for a landing on Earth to be used again, just like a Falcon 9 first stage.
SpaceX is planning to conduct the first orbital test flight of Starship using a Super Heavy booster sometime in the coming months. That mission is expected to see Starship launch from Texas, take a quick trip to space and then perform a soft water landing off the coast of Hawaii.
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