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SpaceX Conducted Successful Test-Firing Of Most Powerful Rocket Ever Built

SpaceX has achieved a major milestone in its mission to explore the Moon and Mars, with a successful test-firing of the engines on its Starship rocket.

On Thursday, the company conducted a static fire of the 33 Raptor engines on the first-stage booster of the Starship, setting a new record for the most thrust ever produced by a single space rocket.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that 31 engines fired overall, and that the test lasted its full duration. Giant sheets of orange flames and clouds of smoke billowed into the air during the test-firing, which lasted several seconds.

NASA is counting on the 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, SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to use the mammoth Starships to send people to Mars.

The 69-metre (230 ft) Super Heavy booster was anchored to the ground during the test-firing on Thursday to prevent it from lifting off.

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Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, said at a conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday that if the test was successful, the first orbital launch may take place within the next month or so. That launch, a test mission, would involve lifting off from Texas and landing off the coast of Hawaii.

NASA has picked the Starship capsule to ferry its astronauts to the Moon as part of the Artemis 3 mission, set for 2025 at the earliest. When mated to its upper-stage Starship spacecraft, the entire vehicle will stand taller than the Statue of Liberty at 120 metres (394 ft) high, forming the centrepiece of Musk’s ambitions to eventually colonise Mars.

Spaceflight enthusiasts lauded the engine test, describing it as “a big win” for SpaceX. SpaceX foresees eventually putting a Starship into orbit and then refuelling it with another Starship so it can continue a journey to Mars or beyond.

Other super heavy rockets under development include Blue Origin’s New Glenn, China’s Long March 9 and Russia’s Yenisei. Blue Origin, the private space company founded by US tech billionaire Jeff Bezos, was awarded its first interplanetary NASA contract on Thursday to launch a mission next year to study the magnetic field around Mars.

The mission, called ESCAPADE, will be launched in late 2024 from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, and will be powered by Blue Origin’s recently developed New Glenn heavy-lift rocket. The reusable first stage is designed to be flown on at least 25 missions.

SpaceX’s successful engine test is a major milestone in its mission to explore the Moon and Mars, and is a testament to the company’s ambition and innovation. With the test-firing of the 33 Raptor engines on the Starship, SpaceX has set a new record for the most thrust ever produced by a single space rocket. The first orbital launch of the Starship is expected to take place within the next month or so, and NASA’s Artemis 3 mission is set for 2025. Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket is also set to power NASA’s ESCAPADE mission next year.

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