Science

SpaceX plans to beat NASA to launch the biggest rocket ever

SpaceX plans to beat NASA to launch the biggest rocket ever

SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket tests 11 of its 33 engines Credit – SpaceX via Twitter

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket officially became the most powerful rocket ever flown when it lifted off in the early morning hours of November 16th, releasing a whopping 4 million kg (8.8 million lbs) of thrust. That comfortably surpassed the old record holder – the Apollo-era Saturn 5, with its 3.4 million kg (7.5 million lbs) of thrust.

But SLS won’t hold onto that title for long. As Space.com reportsEarlier this week, SpaceX successfully test-fired 11 of the 33 engines on its Brobdingnagian Super Heavy rocket, a beast of a machine that, when all its engines fire, will produce more than 7.25 million kg (16 million lbs) of thrust, nearly double from SLS. The Super Heavy is 69 m (230 ft.) tall and serves as the first stage carrying the 50 m (164 ft.) Starship spacecraft. The entire suite, also known as the Starship, is nearly 40 stories tall – again easily surpassing the SLS’s 32 stories.

Unlike SLS, of course, Starship hasn’t flown yet, but the engine test is in preparation for the rocket’s first unmanned launch which could happen later this month—though it’s more likely to happen in the first quarter of 2023. Whenever it launches ships, it cannot come too soon. NASA has selected the upper part of the crewed Starship as the lander for the Artemis 3 mission, which aims to return American astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2026.

Meanwhile, NASA’s uncrewed Artemis 1 mission around the moon—which got its boost thanks to SLS—was proceeding right on schedule. The latest step in that plan took place at 4:53 p.m. ET yesterday, when the spacecraft, currently in lunar orbit, fired its engine for one minute and 45 seconds, setting it on track for its final shutdown, the space agency said. . lunar flyby before heading home for its scheduled Dec. 11 landing.



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