Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has completed a critical test of its massive new rocket system, Starship.
Engineers performed a “static fire,” igniting 31 of the 33 engines at the base of the vehicle’s lower segment at the same time.
The firing lasted only a few seconds, and everything was clamped down to prevent movement.
When Starship takes its first flight, it will become the most powerful operational rocket system in history.
This could happen in the coming weeks if SpaceX is pleased with the results of Thursday’s test.
The static fire occurred at SpaceX’s research and development facility in Boca Chica, Texas, near the border with Mexico.
Elon Musk stated on Twitter that the team turned off one engine prior to the test and that another engine shut down on its own, leaving 31 engines running in total.
However, there were “still enough engines to reach orbit,” he added.
Even though this was not the entire contingent of engines, the number of engines working together was notable. The closest parallel is probably the N1 rocket developed by the Soviets in the late 1960s to transport cosmonauts to the Moon.
It was equipped with 30 engines arranged in two rings. The N1, on the other hand, failed on all four of its flights and was eventually grounded.