SpaceX has shared an image (below) showing the 33 Raptor engines installed in the base of its rocket. super-heavy generation as the company carries out the final work for the booster’s first orbital flight.
The Super Heavy rocket will be the most powerful space vehicle ever launched when it lifts off the ground, and is destined to one day carry astronauts to the Moon and possibly even Mars.
A second image (below) shows the six Raptor engines on the Starship spacecraft that will ride atop the Super Heavy when it blasts into space. When separated from the Super Heavy, the spacecraft is capable of independent flight and can even land upright on the ground, either on Earth or another celestial body such as the Moon.
33 Raptor engines installed on the Booster, 6 on the Ship pic.twitter.com/l7K6rH96qa
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 2, 2022
SpaceX boss Elon Musk said a couple of weeks ago that the Super Heavy booster and Starship spacecraft, collectively known as Starship, will be ready for its first orbital test flight later this month.
SpaceX recently cleared a major hurdle after a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report concluded there were no major issues preventing the company from using its starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, for orbital launches. However, the FAA released a list of measures and safeguards that SpaceX needs to work out before the Starship’s highly anticipated maiden mission.
The rocket is currently on the Starbase launch pad awaiting a crucial static fire test to ensure the engines and other systems are working properly for the test flight.
The 394-foot-tall Super Heavy is capable of 17 million pounds of thrust, more than double that of the Saturn V rocket that propelled astronauts to the moon, and considerably more than the 8.8 million pounds of thrust offered by the rocket. NASA’s next-generation SLS, which could also take its first orbital flight later this month.
A successful orbital mission for Starship would be a huge boost for SpaceX and NASA, which wants to build lunar bases for long-term astronaut missions as part of the Artemis program, which also has manned missions to Mars in its sights.