It’s been a long time coming, but the first orbital test of SpaceX’s mighty Super Heavy rocket and Starship spacecraft looks to be just weeks away.
Following SpaceX’s recent sharing of a video showing the Starship being stacked atop the company’s next-generation rocket, and comments by SpaceX chief Elon Musk that said the test flight could take place as soon as next month, Musk has said again that the mission is expected to take place “soon.”
Additionally, in a tweet on Thursday, SpaceX said it’s about to conduct a series of all-important “wet dress rehearsals” that will put the rocket through all of the pre-flight procedures short of actually launching it.
“Team are stepping into a series of tests prior to Starship’s first flight test in the weeks ahead, including full stack wet dress rehearsals and hold down firing of Booster 7’s 33 Raptor engines,” SpaceX said in the tweet (below).
The company also released new images of the 394-foot-tall (120 meters) rocket on the launchpad at its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
Packing an astonishing 17 million pounds of thrust at launch, the Super Heavy will become the most powerful rocket ever to fly when it finally heads skyward. For comparison, NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that sent the Orion spacecraft toward the moon in November generates 8.8 million pounds of thrust, while SpaceX’s trusty Falcon 9 rocket generates a mere 1.7 million pounds.
With that in mind, the launch, when it happens in the next couple of months, is sure to be a spectacular sight, and will likely pull in huge crowds keen to see the mission get underway in person.
If the first orbital test flight of the Super Heavy and Starship is a success, SpaceX and NASA will be able to advance plans to use the vehicle for crewed missions to the moon and even Mars. First up, a modified version of the Starship spacecraft is set to land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface in the Artemis III mission, which could take place as early as 2025. SpaceX also wants to use it for the all-civilian dearMoon mission that will send nine people on a flyby of the moon.
But there’s still plenty of work to be done before then, with all eyes now on the highly anticipated test flight. When the details for that mission become available, we’ll be sure to share them on Digital Trends.