West News Wire: The engines on the most powerful rocket ever built, which is intended to eventually transport men to the Moon and Mars, have successfully completed a test-firing by SpaceX.

At SpaceX’s Texas base, the 33 Raptor engines on the Starship’s first-stage booster underwent a static fire test on Thursday that seemed to break the previous record for the highest thrust ever generated by a single space rocket.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, claimed that one engine was shut off just before the test began, and another engine shut itself off.

Musk tweeted, “So 31 engines fired overall.” But there are still enough engines to enter orbit.

According to SpaceX, the test went for its “whole duration.”

Giant sheets of orange flames erupted from the base of the rocket and clouds of smoke billowed into the air during the test-firing, which lasted several seconds.

NASA is counting on Starship to ferry astronauts to the surface of the Moon in a few years, linking up with its Orion capsule in lunar orbit. Further down the road, Musk wants to use the mammoth Starships to send people to Mars.

The 69-metre (230 ft) Super Heavy booster was anchored to the ground during the test-firing on Thursday to prevent it from lifting off.

Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, said at a conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday that if the test was successful, the first orbital launch may take place within the next month or so. That launch, a test mission, would involve lifting off from Texas and landing off the coast of Hawaii.

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“It’s really the final ground test that we can do before we light ’em up and go,” Shotwell said.

NASA has picked the Starship capsule to ferry its astronauts to the Moon as part of the Artemis 3 mission, set for 2025 at the earliest.

When mated to its upper-stage Starship spacecraft, the entire vehicle will stand taller than the Statue of Liberty at 120 metres (394 ft) high, forming the centrepiece of Musk’s ambitions to eventually colonise Mars. But plans call for it to first play a leading role in NASA’s renewed human exploration of the Moon.

Spaceflight enthusiasts lauded the engine test, describing it as “a big win” for SpaceX.


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