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SpaceX activates giant Starship rocket engine in critical test | cosmic news


Starship’s engine test may have set the record for the most powerful thrust ever produced by a space rocket.

SpaceX has conducted a successful test-fire of the engine on the most powerful rocket ever built, designed to eventually send astronauts to the Moon and Mars.

Thursday’s test, known as a static fire, of 33 Raptor engines on SpaceX’s Starship early-stage turbocharger took place at the private space company’s facility in Texas and appears to have set a record. A new record of the most powerful thrust ever produced by a single engine. space rocket.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said one engine went off just before the test started and one stopped on its own.

“So 31 engines worked overall,” Musk said in a tweet. “But still enough engine to reach orbit!”

SpaceX said the test lasted “full duration”.

Huge orange bands of fire erupted from the rocket’s base and plumes of smoke rose into the air during a test firing that lasted several seconds.

NASA is rely on spaceships to send astronauts to the surface of the Moon in a few years, aligning with its Orion capsule in lunar orbit. Going further, Musk wants to use giant spacecraft to send people to Mars.

The 69-metre (230 ft) Super Heavy booster was anchored to the ground during Thursday’s test firing to prevent it from taking off.

Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief executive officer of SpaceX, said at a conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday that if the test is successful, the first orbital launch could take place in the next month or so. . That launch, a test mission, will involve taking off from Texas and landing off the coast of Hawaii.

“This is really the last ground test we can do before burning them up and going,” says Shotwell.

NASA has chosen the Starship capsule to send its astronauts to the Moon as part of the Artemis 3 mission, as early as 2025.

When combined with the upper deck Starship spacecraft, the entire vehicle will be 120 meters (394 ft) taller than the Statue of Liberty, forming the focal point of Musk’s ambitions to be eventually colonize Mars. But plans call for it to play a leading role in NASA’s new human exploration of the Moon first.

Astronaut enthusiasts have praised the engine test, describing it as “a huge win” for SpaceX.

SpaceX predicts eventually putting one spacecraft into orbit and then refueling it with another so it can continue its journey to Mars or beyond.

Other super-heavy rockets in development include Blue Origin’s New Glenn, China’s Long March 9 and Russia’s Yenisei.

blue origin, private space company founded by US tech billionaire Jeff Bezos, was awarded NASA’s first interplanetary contract on Thursday to launch a mission next year to study the magnetic field around Mars, NASA said. .

The agency said the plans call for Blue Origin’s recently developed New Glenn heavy-lift rocket to launch with NASA’s two-spacecraft ESCAPADE mission in late 2024 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Town. Florida, the agency said.

New Glenn, with a reusable first stage designed to fly on at least 25 missions, is named after pioneering NASA astronaut John Glenn, who became the first American to orbit the Earth. land in 1962.

Blue Origin has carried out previous NASA missions with a smaller, suborbital New Shepard rocket that can carry research payloads on short, zero-gravity trips to the edge of space and back. .

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