In some space-themed news that isn’t just billionaires taking joyrides on rocket ships, SpaceX announced that it has now finished attaching 4 grid fins and a monstrous 29 Raptor engines to its Super Heavy rocket booster. The company tweeted the announcement in anticipation of its first test orbital flight.
It’s called Super Heavy for a reason
29 Raptor engines and 4 grid fins have been installed on Super Heavy ahead of first orbital flight pic.twitter.com/XHkCZ9VYK4
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 3, 2021
As if 29 Raptors weren’t enough already, SpaceX plans to add more following a series of test flights. The date of the first test has yet to be revealed, but if all goes well Super Heavy will be used to facilitate SpaceX flights to the moon, Mars and possibly even into the great beyond.
There are still a few hurdles it needs to jump over before then, though. See, Starship and Super Heavy combined will reach an enormous 120 meters into the air, which means the launch tower needs to be equally gigantic. However, according to Digital Trends, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) still needs to finish conducting a review into the environmental impact of such a huge structure, before handing over approval to SpaceX to complete the launchpad’s construction.
It’s a whole, long, arduous process, and even if SpaceX does get the approval it needs, we still probably won’t see Super Heavy take to the skies and stars for at least a few more months.
SpaceX filed a proposed initial test flight plan for Super Heavy and Starship with the FAA back in May, reports Digital Trends. According to the filing, 170 seconds after launch (with 72 meganewtons worth of thrust power) the main craft will detach from the booster rocket, which will enjoy a gravity-assisted fall into the Gulf of Mexico. Starship will continue into orbit, before making a controlled descent into the waters off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. It doesn’t sound quite as remarkable a landing as Starship SN15’s ‘belly flop’ to fully upright landing technique, but hey, not much can beat that.