Skip to main content

SpaceX stacks mighty Super Heavy rocket as it eyes February test launch

SpaceX has shared a video showing its next-generation spaceflight vehicle being stacked on the launchpad ahead of its first test flight.

The footage (below) shows the Starship spacecraft being placed atop the mighty Super Heavy booster at SpaceX’s Starbase launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

Ship 24 stacked on Super Heavy Booster 7 at Starbase in Texas pic.twitter.com/hLcghfq349

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 10, 2023

The test flight has faced a number of delays, but SpaceX chief Elon Musk said on Sunday that it could take place as soon as next month.

“We have a real shot at late February,” Musk said in a tweet, adding that a launch attempt in March “appears highly likely.”

When the Super Heavy finally lifts off, it’ll create 17 million pounds of thrust at launch, making it the most powerful rocket ever to have flown.

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

Other powerful rockets include the Saturn V rocket, which propelled the Apollo astronauts toward the moon five decades ago and was capable of around 7.6 million pounds of thrust.

SpaceX wants to use the 394-foot-tall Super Heavy and Starship for crewed missions to the moon, and even Mars. Just as SpaceX is able to reuse the first stage of its dependable Falcon 9 rocket, both the Super Heavy and Starship have been designed to fly multiple times, enabling SpaceX to cut costs while increasing its launch frequency. However, for the upcoming test flight, both parts will come down in the Pacific Ocean.

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

The Super Heavy and Starship is also set to perform the first all-civilian moon flyby after a Japanese billionaire entrepreneur bought nine seats for the dearMoon mission. A concrete date for the ambitious mission has yet to be set.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
SpaceX slow-motion video shows powerful Raptor rocket engine shutting down
SpaceX testing a Raptor engine.

SpaceX has shared dramatic slow-motion footage showing a Raptor engine powering down at the end of a recent test fire.

“Shutdown of a Raptor vacuum engine in slow motion,” SpaceX said in a message accompanying the video (below). It added that the engine’s nozzle "is sized for use by Starship in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and outer space, so operation at sea level and low chamber pressures results in flow separation creating visible rings in the exhaust."

Read more
SpaceX all set for a record-breaking rocket launch on Friday
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches in February 2023.

UPDATE: SpaceX set a new record on Friday night by launching and landing a Falcon 9 booster for the 20th time. The original article is included below SpaceX's update on the mission:

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1778964313845506535

Read more
Watch SpaceX blast its megarocket engines in spectacular test
SpaceX's Super Heavy booster during a static fire test.

SpaceX recently lit all 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy booster in a static fire test ahead of its fourth flight.

The tethered test took place at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, and was performed without the Starship spacecraft atop the booster. The company shared a video showing the engines firing up:

Read more