Elon Musk‘s space company has made a huge leap forward in launching its massive spaceship, Starship, into orbit. Last Thursday, SpaceX ignited the engines of Booster7 on the launch pad at Starbase in Boca Chica.
31 Raptor Static Fire
31 of the 33 Raptor engines on Booster7, the first stage of the starship, simultaneously ignited for about 10 seconds in southern Texas. The team shut down one engine before sending the ignition command, but as the CEO declared on Twitter, “it’s the minimum number of engines needed to reach orbit!” Elon Musk estimates that the first orbital test flight of starship could take place as early as next March, if the test analysis and remaining preparations go as planned.
The Booster7 remained anchored to the launch pad as expected during the test. Additionally, there were no signs of severe damage to the launch tower. NASA is counting on starship to carry astronauts to the Moon‘s surface in the coming years. But later, Musk intends to use the giant starship to reach Mars.
Features of Starship
For Thursday’s test, SpaceX only used the engines of Booster7, also known as the Super Heavy first stage, which is 69 meters tall. The second stage, the part that will actually land on the moon and Mars, was in the hangar in preparation for the first orbital flight. In total, starship rises to 120 meters, making it the largest and most powerful rocket ever built by humanity.
It can generate 17 million pounds of thrust at takeoff, almost double the NASA moon rocket SLS that sent a capsule Orion to the moon and back at the end of last year. SpaceX ignited 14 Raptor engines last autumn and completed all refueling tests last month. Now, we only have to wait for the announcement of the first orbital launch, where all the launch systems and the actual capabilities of the starship carrier will finally be tested.