SpaceX takes Falcon Super Heavy’s first test shot

On Monday (19), SpaceX fired the massive Falcon Super Heavy booster rocket for its new spacecraft, in an unprecedented short test for the company’s ambitious new launch system.

The massive stainless steel booster fired three Raptor engines during a brief “static draft” test on a platform at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in South Texas, near the village of Boca Chica.

Booster 3, as this Super Heavy is known, is the latest in a series of prototypes for SpaceX’s Starship program, which aims to develop a fully reusable launch system for travel to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

“Full shot of 3 Raptors in Super Heavy Booster,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote late Monday night on Twitter.

Asked about the chances of further testing the rocket, Musk said, “Depending on the progress with Booster 4, we can try the 9 engine to shoot Booster 3.”

If nine engines seem like a lot, that’s the amount SpaceX uses in the first stage of each Falcon 9 rocket. The company’s Heavy rocket, which consists of three thrusters and an upper stage, connects 27 engines together during the lift-off. Starship’s Super Heavy booster, meanwhile, is expected to use over 30 engines when launched.

Falcon Super Heavy Booster 3 will not fly in space

Designed to be a reusable first-stage booster to transport the company’s massive spacecraft into orbit, the Super Heavy stands 70 meters tall and will eventually carry a 50m spacecraft to the top when SpaceX attempts the first orbital flight of this vehicle.

In May, SpaceX successfully launched and landed a Starship vehicle on a test flight that reached an altitude of 10 km. The company has announced its intention to launch the first orbital flight with Starship by the end of August, pending recall tests.

Musk said the Booster 3 rocket is unlikely to fly into space, but will be used for ground testing.

Its successor, Booster 4, would be the first to launch a spaceship. This test flight would launch a prototype spacecraft from SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Texas to a target area near the island of Kauai, Hawaii, as the thruster crashes in the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually, SpaceX hopes to salvage its Super Heavy and Starship vehicles for later reuse, as it regularly does with its Falcon 9 boosters.

SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy rockets are central to the company’s plans for 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 the Japanese businessman. Yusaku Maezawa.

Musk wants to use stellar vehicles to help send astronauts to Mars and has said the spacecraft could be fully operational by 2023 if the tests are successful.

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