SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared stunning photographs of the gigantic Super Heavy rocket prototype that is undergoing development at Starbase in Boca Chica Beach, Texas. Super Heavy is designed to propel the Starship spacecraft to orbit, it will become the world’s most powerful rocket once it is operational. Super Heavy will be equipped with up to 32 methane-fueled Raptor engines capable of producing over 16 million pounds of thrust! With this power, a Starship launch vehicle will be capable of lifting around 100 tons of cargo and 100 passengers to the Moon and Mars.
Super Heavy on road & 7th Tower segment added pic.twitter.com/SJIHA3BLhL— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 1, 2021
Today, July 1st, SpaceX transported the first Super Heavy booster prototype from the assembly high bay to the launch pad less than 5-miles down the road. The booster is called ‘Booster Number 3’ (BN3). Musk also shared a photo of the massive Starship launch tower that is under construction. –“Super Heavy on road & 7th Tower segment added,” Musk captioned the photographs, shown above. Once all the launch tower steel segments are added the tower will be 469-feet-tall with a 10 feet lightning rod. It will also feature the capability of ‘catching’ the Super Heavy booster by its grid fins as it returns from space. Musk shared this week that the first booster to fly will be ‘Booster 4’. “Booster 3 will be used for ground tests. We’re changing much of design from 3 to 4. Booster 3 was very hard to build,” he shared via Twitter, “Expect especially rapid evolution in first ~10 boosters & first ~30 ships,” he said. The booster that was transported to the launch pad today will undergo testing on the ground in the weeks ahead.
First one to fly will, so Booster 4. Booster 3 will be used for ground tests. We’re changing much of design from 3 to 4. Booster 3 was very hard to build. Expect especially rapid evolution in first ~10 boosters & first ~30 ships.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 30, 2021
Catching the 230-foot-tall Super Heavy booster as it descends from space will enable fast reusability. Engineers are working to create a rocket capable of being reused at least three times per day. “Starship booster, largest flying object ever designed, will be caught out of sky by launch tower. Big step forward, as reflight can be done in under an hour,” Musk said earlier this year. Using the launch tower to catch the rocket “saves mass and cost of legs… enables immediate repositioning of booster on to launch mount […],” he stated. SpaceX targets to conduct a debut orbital Starship flight test this Summer. If the company obtains the necessary regulatory approval, Super Heavy will propel Starship to orbit from Starbase and return to land, while Starship orbits Earth then lands with a soft ocean landing off the northwest coast of Kauai in Hawaii.
The ambitious flight test would last around 90 minutes and enable SpaceX engineers to learn about how Starship’s structural design, hardware, and software works in-flight to further develop the spacecraft that will one day enable humans to become a multiplanet species. SpaceX told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that its objective is “to collect as much data as possible during flight to quantify entry dynamics and better understand what the vehicle experiences in a flight regime that is extremely difficult to accurately predict or replicate computationally,” SpaceX stated, “This data will anchor any changes in vehicle design or CONOPs [concept of operations] after the first flight and build better models for us to use in our internal simulations.”
Super Heavy moves tomorrow pic.twitter.com/qHG1SYO46S— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 1, 2021
Featured Image Source: Elon Musk via Twitter
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.