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SpaceX plans to beat NASA to launch the biggest rocket ever

SpaceX plans to beat NASA to launch the biggest rocket ever

SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket test fires 11 of its 33 engines Credit – SpaceX via Twitter

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) lunar rocket officially became the most powerful rocket ever flown when it lifted off in the early morning hours of November 16, firing an incredible 4 million kg (8.8 million lbs) of thrust. This comfortably beat the old record holder, the Apollo-era Saturn 5, with its 3.4 million kg (7.5 million pounds) of thrust.

But the SLS wouldn’t hold that title for long. Like Space.com reports, earlier this week SpaceX successfully test-fired 11 of the 33 engines on its Brobdingnagian Super Heavy rocket, a beast of a machine that, when all its engines are fired, will produce more than 7.25 million kg (16 million lbs) of thrust , almost double that of the SLS. The Super Heavy is 69 m (230 ft) tall and serves as the first stage carrying the 50 m (164 ft) Starship spacecraft. The entire stack, also known as the Starship, is nearly 40 stories tall – again easily surpassing the SLS’s 32 stories.

Unlike the SLS, of course, Starship hasn’t flown yet, but the engine test is preparatory to the rocket’s first unmanned launch, which could happen later this month — though it’s more likely to happen in the first quarter of 2023. Whenever the launch of ships, it cannot come too soon. NASA has selected the crewed top of the Starship stack as the lander for the Artemis 3 mission, which aims to return American astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2026.

Meanwhile, NASA’s Artemis 1 unmanned lunar mission — which got its boost thanks to SLS — is going right on schedule. As the space agency announced, the final step in that plan took place yesterday at 4:53 p.m. ET, when the spacecraft, currently in lunar orbit, fired its engine for one minute and 45 seconds, setting it on track for its final lunar flight. , before heading home for a scheduled landing on December 11.

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