SpaceX plans to beat NASA in launching the largest rocket ever

SpaceX Super Heavy rocket tests 11 of 33 engines – SpaceX via Twitter

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) moon rocket officially became the most powerful rocket ever launched when it lifted off in the early morning hours of November 16th, unleashing a massive 4 million kg (8.8 million lb) of thrust. This comfortably beat the old record holder – the Apollo-era Saturn 5, with its 3.4 million kilograms (7.5 million pounds) of thrust.

But the SLS won’t hold that title for long. as such reportsEarlier this week, SpaceX successfully tested 11 of the 33 engines on its Brobdingnagian Super Heavy rocket, a beast of a machine that, when all its engines are lit, will produce more than 7.25 million kg (16 million pounds) of thrust, roughly It is twice that of the SLS. At 69 meters (230 ft) tall, the Super Heavy serves as the first stage carrying the 50-meter (164 ft) Starship spacecraft. The entire stack, also known as the Starship, is nearly 40 stories tall — again handily eclipsing the SLS’s 32 stories.

Unlike the SLS, of course, the Starship hasn’t launched yet, but the engine test is in preparation for the first uncrewed launch of the rocket that could happen later this month — though it’s more likely to happen in the first quarter of 2023. Whenever that happens . Ship launches, can’t come so soon. NASA has selected the inhabited top of the spacecraft’s stack as the lander for the Artemis 3 mission, which aims to return American astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2026.

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Meanwhile, NASA’s Artemis 1 mission around the moon — which got a boost thanks to the SLS — has been going strictly according to plan. As announced by the space agency, the last step in that plan occurred yesterday at 4:53 p.m. ET, when the spacecraft, currently in lunar orbit, fired its engine for 1 minute and 45 seconds, putting it on course for final shutdown. Fly over the moon before heading home for a planned flyby on December 11.

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