SpaceX Stacks New Rocket As It Targets February Test Launch

SpaceX has shared a video showing its next-generation spacecraft being stacked on the launch pad ahead of its first test flight.

Footage (below) shows the Starship spacecraft being placed atop the powerful Super Heavy booster at SpaceX’s starbase launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

The test flight faced a number of delays, but SpaceX chief Elon Musk said Sunday it could happen as early as next month.

“We have a real chance at the end of February,” Musk said said in a tweet, adding that a launch attempt in March “appears very likely”.

When the Super Heavy finally lifts off, it will generate 17 million pounds of thrust on launch, making it the most powerful rocket that has ever flown.

The record is currently held by NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which generated 8.8 million pounds of thrust when it lifted off for the first time in November in the Artemis I mission that sent an unmanned Orion capsule to the moon.

Other powerful rockets include the Saturn V rocket that carried the Apollo astronauts to the moon five decades ago and had around 7.6 million pounds of thrust.

SpaceX wants to use the 394-foot-tall Super Heavy and Starship for manned missions to the moon and even Mars. Just as SpaceX is able to reuse the first stage of its trusty Falcon 9 rocket, both Super Heavy and Starship were designed to fly multiple times, allowing SpaceX to reduce costs while increasing launch frequency. For the upcoming test flight, however, both parts will land in the Pacific Ocean.

SpaceX is one of many commercial companies working with NASA on its Artemis space exploration program, and part of their current plan is to use a modified version of the Starship spacecraft to create the first woman and first black person in the next few years to land on the moon years in the highly anticipated mission Artemis III.

The Super Heavy and Starship will also conduct the first all-civilian flyby of the moon after a Japanese billionaire bought nine seats for the DearMoon mission. A specific date for the ambitious mission has not yet been set.

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