SpaceX has been successfully launching and landing rockets for half a decade, but its famous Falcon 9 is just a stepping stone into its grand plans. Elon Musk’s company wants to make space travel to the moon and beyond more economical, and that requires missiles that are far larger and more powerful than their own Falcon Heavy. That role will be played by the SpaceX spaceship, and the company has taken just a small step closer to this end goal with the successful testing of what would later become the Super Heavy booster.
The Super Heavy Booster is the first stage of the Starship system that will eventually get people back to the moon, at least through SpaceX’s commercial program. Bigger and heavier than anything SpaceX has brought to market to date, even a small static fire test can go horribly wrong. Fortunately, everything went according to plan.
SpaceX and Elon Musk tweeted the successful static fire test of the Super Heavy Booster 3, which was developed for the Starship spacecraft. It’s only the first and small step, but it should provide enough data for future testing. More importantly, the test only included three Raptor engines, a tenth of what was ultimately planned for the Starship’s first real trip.
SpaceX plans to test nine Raptor engines first on Booster 3 before moving on to testing Booster 4, which would be the first Super Heavy Booster to actually carry a spaceship. The ultimate goal is to have more than 30 engines that propel all of the contraptions into space. If that sounds exaggerated, the Falcon Heavy already uses 27 motors for its first stage booster in comparison.
Unlike rivals Branson and Bezos, Musk is in no hurry to make SpaceX’s spaceship dreams come true. The goal is more ambitious than just space tourism, after all, and it will all depend on how successfully and safely the Starship can get people into space and then safely return to Earth to be reused for another launch.
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