SpaceX Ignites Starship SN20's Six Raptor Engines Creating A Spectacular Show Of Power
On November 12th, SpaceX test-fired the extremely powerful Raptor engines of its Starship SN20 rocket prototype. As the engines fired up, an incredible image of the eruption of fire and exhaust funneling out from beneath the base of the engines was captured.
SpaceX has been evolving it's cutting-edge space mission technology since its founding in 2002 and was founded by Elon Musk. It has used its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy to launch vehicles and payloads for its own missions, as well as for other customers which include NASA and the Crew Dragon. It is perhaps most well known for its creation of rockets that can both launch and then return back to earth and land, to be used again.
The Starship program of SpaceX is aimed at taking its experience up to date and creating a fully reusable transportation system that can service Earth orbit needs as well as future commercial and private missions to the Moon and Mars. The manned missions will be supported by SpaceX's Super Heavy booster rocket and will transport payloads and people aboard a reusable Starship spacecraft, much like the retired Space Shuttle program.
Friday's static firing test was of the Raptor engines that will power the Starship SN20 spacecraft once it is launched into orbit using the Super Heavy booster rocket. The spacecraft is designed to initially be used as a means of transporting satellites, large observatories, cargo and refueling tanks or other unmanned assets. It has an 8 meter payload dynamic to transport an entire constellation of satellites in just one launch. There is also an extended payload option of 22 meters of height if needed and the spacecraft is said to be able to carry over 100 metric tons of cargo to low Earth orbit with no need for a refueling of the Starship.
NASA has chosen SpaceX's Starship to send its astronauts and payloads to the moon as part of its Artemis program. But SpaceX is not looking to stop there. It fully intends on creating its own program that will eventually provide customers with the opportunity to orbit the moon and eventually travel to Mars. The company has actually already booked a flight with Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa for a trip around the moon.
But before all of this can happen SpaceX has a couple of hurdles to overcome. The first is waiting for clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This will be needed before SpaceX can go ahead with its first attempt at launching Starship SN20 into low Earth Orbit, or beyond the 62 mile (100 km) upper border of space. Previous test launches have only reached a maximum of 6 miles or 10 kilometers.
When fully stacked the Starship stands at a record height of 395 feet (120 m). In comparison, the Saturn V moon rocket was just a bit shorter at 363 feet (110 m). If you are wanting to keep up to date with the Starship and its progress, you should follow SpaceX on Twitter. That is where they shared the amazing photo above.
This massive package truly has the potential to take space travel to the next level. It was not long ago that imagining man traveling to Mars was left to science fiction writers and filmmakers. But with the advances that are being made by SpaceX and others, it is now an idea that can be shared within the breadth of reality.