SpaceX has been launching and landing rockets successfully for half a decade now, but its famed Falcon 9 is just a stepping stone in its grand plans. Elon Musk’s company wants to make deep space travel to the Moon and beyond more economical, and that will require rockets far larger and more powerful than the company’s own Falcon Heavy. That role will be filled by the SpaceX Starship, and the company took just a small step closer to that end goal with the successful test of what will eventually be the Super Heavy booster.
The Super Heavy booster is the first stage of the Starship system that will eventually bring humans to the Moon again, at least through SpaceX’s commercial program. Larger and heavier than anything SpaceX has launched so far, even a small static fire test can go wrong horribly wrong. Fortunately, everything went according to plan.
SpaceX and Elon Musk tweeted the successful static fire test of the Super Heavy Booster 3 designed for the Starship spacecraft. It’s just the first step and a small one, but it should provide enough data for future tests. More importantly, the test included only three Raptor engines, a tenth of what’s eventually planned for the Starship’s first real voyage.
SpaceX plans to test nine Raptor engines first on the Booster 3 before moving onto testing Booster 4, which would be the first Super Heavy Booster to actually carry a Starship. The ultimate goal is to have more than 30 engines pushing the whole contraptions into space. If that sounds excessive, the Falcon Heavy already uses 27 engines for its first stage booster in comparison.
Unlike rivals Branson and Bezos, Musk isn’t in a hurry for the completion of SpaceX’s Starship dreams. The goal, after all, is more ambitious than just space tourism, and it will all hinge on how successful and safe the Starship will be able to carry humans to space and then safely return to Earth, to be reused for another launch.