SpaceX has fired the engine of its powerful Starship rocket that could one day take astronauts to the moon and beyond.
The Starship SN5 — a test version of the rocket — was tethered to the ground when the test of the Raptor engine took place at the SpaceX facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on Thursday, July 30.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a photo of the event (below), and also said that the Starship would complete a “150m hop soon.” It’s not clear what he means by “soon,” but it could come in a matter of days rather than weeks.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 30, 2020
In July and August 2019, SpaceX performed two successful hops with a shorter version of Starship — a since-retired prototype called Starhopper — but the upcoming flight will be the first using these larger “SN” prototypes.
It’s also worth noting that up until now, several of the SN vehicles haven’t fared too well in testing, with both the SN1 and SN4 suffering catastrophic structural failures.
The Starship spacecraft and Super Heavy rocket (collectively referred to as Starship) will be a fully reusable transportation system capable of carrying up to 100 people and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, and even Mars. Starship will launch atop the massive first-stage Super Heavy rocket, which will have 31 Raptor engines. Once in space, Starship will use its six Raptor engines for travel between different destinations.
In June 2020, Musk stated his desire to ramp up work on the Starship project, telling SpaceX employees in an internal email: “Please consider the top SpaceX priority (apart from anything that could reduce Dragon return risk) to be Starship,” at the same time imploring his team to “dramatically and immediately” accelerate work on the space transportation system.
If future testing goes according to plan, it’s hoped that Starship will make an uncrewed landing on the moon in the next couple of years, ahead of an astronaut mission.
Digital Trends has reached out to SpaceX for more details on when it’s aiming for its first full launch with Starship and we will update this article when we hear back.
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