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Elon Musk shares photos of Super Heavy’s trip to launchpad

Elon Musk has tweeted photos of SpaceX’s next-generation Super Heavy rocket — complete with its 29 Raptor engines — being transported to the launchpad at its Starbase facility in South Texas.

“Moving rocket to orbital launchpad,” the SpaceX chief wrote in the tweet.

Moving rocket to orbital launch pad

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 4, 2021

Earlier in the day, Musk also shared an image of all six Raptor engines on Starship, the spacecraft that will sit atop Super Heavy when it lifts off.

All 6 engines mounted to first orbital Starship

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 4, 2021

SpaceX is currently awaiting clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the mission, which, when it takes place, will mark the first flight for Super Heavy and the first orbital flight for Starship.

Super Heavy stands at 70 meters tall, but with Starship on top, the overall height of the launch vehicle will reach 120 meters.

When it roars skyward, Super Heavy will demonstrate the greatest thrust capability ever seen in a rocket, which, at 72 meganewtons, is a little more than double that of the Saturn V vehicle that launched humans to the moon 50 or so years ago.

According to a flight plan sent by SpaceX to the FAA several months ago, the test mission will last about 90 minutes.

Around 170 seconds after launch, Starship will separate from Super Heavy, with the first-stage booster then descending to waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Starship will continue skyward, reaching orbit for the first time a short while later. Finally, the spacecraft, which SpaceX wants to eventually use for missions to the moon, Mars, and perhaps beyond, will splash down off the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Both Super Heavy and Starship are designed to be reused. SpaceX has already been practicing Starship landings, succeeding with its more recent attempt in May. Landing it after bringing it down from orbit is a trickier endeavor, though one it’s working on. It also wants to get to a point where it can land the Super Heavy booster in a similar way to how it lands its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. But in the case of the Super Heavy, Musk has previously mentioned a plan for the launch tower arm to “catch” the booster as it touches down. This would eliminate the need for legs, which add extra weight to the vehicle, thereby paving the way for heavier payloads and more efficient fuel use.

It’s not clear when this almighty machine will get to tear through the sky, but we’ll be sure to update just as soon as a flight schedule is announced.

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Trevor Mogg
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