Starship: SpaceX lights up 31 engines of its mega-rocket for its first orbital launch

The Super Heavy launcher looks ready.

© SpaceX

The first images are impressive. The Starship mega-rocket, developed by SpaceX, carried out an ignition test of the engines of the Super Heavy launch vehicle on Thursday, February 9. If the success is there after analysis of the data by the company’s teams, the launch of the rocket could take place in the coming weeks.

31 of 33 engines on

Until now, only 14 of the 33 engines had been started at the same time on the device. Thursday, 31 engines could be activated simultaneously, a historic first for the most powerful rocket in the world. “The team shut down one engine just before the test and another shut down on its own, resulting in a total of 31 engines being ignited. But that’s still enough engines to reach orbit!“, reacted Elon Musk, the CEO of the company on Twitterensuring that one day, “Starship will take us to Mars.”

The tests were filmed live from SpaceX’s research and development facilities in Boca Chica, on the Texas-Mexico border. The Starship project can be compared to the N1 rocket developed by the Soviets in the late 1960s, recalls the BBC. 30 engines were to propel the aircraft into space, which had failed four of its flights. Development was then halted.

Starship has 33 engines to push the rocket into orbit.

Starship has 33 engines to push the rocket into orbit.

© SpaceX

A takeoff in March?

SpaceX and Elon Musk are banking heavily on the success of Starship. Endowed with phenomenal power, the device could ship heavy loads for distant and regular space missions. Completely reusable, the Super Heavy launcher and the ship can be used in the context of several missions. Saving time and money to launch space travel. NASA is counting on the device in particular for its Artemis II mission, and its return to the moon by 2024. For his part, Musk wishes to use the vehicle for a first manned trip to Mars.

The first returns from the tests conducted on Thursday seem good, but SpaceX engineers have yet to analyze all the results. If the experience is definitively validated, the test launch of Starship could take place in March.

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