SpaceX destroyed a Mars Starship rocket on Wednesday (January 25) to continue preparing for the giant rover’s first orbital test flight.
Starship It consists of two reusable components, a massive first-stage booster called the Super Heavy and a 165-foot (50 m) spacecraft known as the Starship. Both are supported by SpaceXNext generation Raptor engine – 33 for the Super Heavy engine and six for the Starship engine.
Earlier this month, SpaceX stacked the upper stage model of the ship 24 atop a Booster 7 Super Heavy variant at Starbase, the company’s facility in south Texas. And on Monday (January 23), the company performed Notable rehearsal With the duo, they practice several launch day routines – including loading the vehicles’ tanks with more than 10 million pounds (4.5 million kilograms) of super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid methane fuel.
Related: SpaceX’s first orbital spacecraft looks super cool in these fuel test photos
Monday’s test was a major milestone for Ship 24 and Booster 7, which SpaceX is preparing for an orbital test flight that could take off. As soon as next month. But the rehearsal wasn’t the last box to check, as Wednesday’s activities showed.
“Launching the 24th of the destroyed Booster 7 and capturing its tower on the orbital platform today ahead of the static Booster launch test,” SpaceX He tweeted on Wednesday (Opens in a new tab)in a post that included two photos of the work.
The Starbase tower, about 469 feet (143 meters) tall, will help gently return the stabilized Super Heavy boosters atop the orbital launch base after liftoff, which explains the “capture” part of its name.
SpaceX explained that the upcoming static fire test — a common pre-launch experiment in which the engines are ignited briefly while the vehicle remains pinned to the ground — will involve all 33 Booster 7 Raptors. Tweet Tue (Opens in a new tab).
So far, the booster has been tested with max 14 of its engines same time. The 24 lit all six Raptors during a stint Fixed fire in September 2022. (Fixed fires are done separately with each craft, in a destructive configuration, for safety’s sake. So, if something goes wrong during Booster 7’s launch, Ship 24 won’t be damaged.)
SpaceX hasn’t said when the 33-engine test will take place, but don’t expect the wait to be long. SpaceX, its founder and CEO, Elon Musklike moving quickly, and there don’t seem to be many hurdles to clear before Booster 7 lights up.
Mike Wall is the author of “Abroad (Opens in a new tab)Book (Major Grand Publishers, 2018; illustration by Carl Tate), a book about the search for aliens. Follow him on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab) or on Facebook (Opens in a new tab).