SpaceX ignites giant Starship rocket in crucial pad test | Tech News

SpaceX ignites giant Starship rocket in crucial pad test

Musk estimates Starship’s first orbital test flight could occur as soon as March, if the test analyses and remaining preparations go well.

By:AP
| Updated on: Feb 10 2023, 12:12 IST
In Pics: February’s stunning Snow Moon backdrops SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch
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1/6 According to the Maine Farmers' Almanac which began publishing Native Indian names for full Moons in the 1930s, February’s full Moon is called Snow Moon or Storm Moon because of the heavy snowfall during the season in various parts of the world. (Twitter/Cygnusx112)
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2/6 SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on February 7 at 0332 GMT. The rocket whizzed past the full Moon, creating a spectacular sight for astronomers and skywatchers alike.  (Twitter/EthanWalshPhoto)
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3/6 After the successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, the first-stage booster separated and landed on a drone ship minutes later. The launch was captured by people watching February’s Snow Moon along the coast of Florida.  (Twitter/JerryPikePhoto)
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4/6 Skywatchers and astrophotographers even took to Twitter to share the stunning images captured by them. Twitter user TJWallerPhotos wrote, “Yeeehaw!! Finally got the coveted "rocket passing the moon" shot last night during the @SpaceX AmazonasNexus launch.”  (Twitter/TJWallerPhotos)
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5/6 Another Twitter user named AdxPvdPhoto wrote, “Last night’s SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of the Amazonas Nexus mission with a nearly full moon rising in the clear night sky.” (Twitter/AdxPvdPhoto)
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6/6 Why does a full Moon occur? Well, a full moon occurs when the side of the Moon facing Earth is fully lit up by the Sun. There are a few different types of unusual full moon types, which include blood moons, supermoons, blue moons, and harvest moons, and others. The Snow Moon is one of the 12 full Moons of the year and it will reach its maximum elevation in the constellation Leo just after midnight.  (REUTERS)
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Thirty-one of the 33 first-stage booster engines ignited simultaneously for about 10 seconds in south Texas. (AFP)

SpaceX is a big step closer to sending its giant Starship spacecraft into orbit, completing an engine-firing test at the launch pad on Thursday.

Thirty-one of the 33 first-stage booster engines ignited simultaneously for about 10 seconds in south Texas. The team turned off one engine before sending the firing command and another engine shut down — “but still enough engines to reach orbit!” tweeted SpaceX's Elon Musk.

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Musk estimates Starship's first orbital test flight could occur as soon as March, if the test analyses and remaining preparations go well.

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The booster remained anchored to the pad as planned during the test. There were no signs of major damage to the launch tower.

NASA is counting on Starship to ferry astronauts to the surface of the moon in a few years, linking up with its Orion capsule in lunar orbit. Further down the road, Musk wants to use the mammoth Starships to send crowds to Mars.

Only the first-stage Super Heavy booster, standing 230 feet (69 meters) tall, was used for Thursday's test. The futuristic second stage — the part that will actually land on the moon and Mars — was in the hangar being prepped for flight.

Altogether, Starship towers 394 feet (120 meters), making it the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built. It's capable of generating 17 million pounds of liftoff thrust, almost double that of NASA's moon rocket that sent an empty capsule to the moon and back late last year.

SpaceX fired up to 14 Starship engines last fall and completed a fueling test at the pad last month.

Flocks of birds scattered as Starship's engines came alive and sent thick dark plumes of smoke across the Starship launch complex, dubbed Starbase. It's located at the southernmost tip of Texas near the village of Boca Chica, close to the Mexican border.

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First Published Date: 10 Feb, 11:31 IST
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