SpaceX’s Starship recorded another milestone after all of the spaceship’s three engines were fired for several seconds for the first time. The Starship Prototype named SN8 had all three engines fired at the Boca Chica Facility, Texas, early in the morning on Tuesday. The test is the spaceship’s first triple engine static test fire. All three engines were powered at the same time but the spaceship was not launched.
The all-engine static test is one of the final steps in the manufacturing process of a spaceship before it is launched. SpaceX has revealed plans to send the spaceship to the Moon, Mars, and other parts of the Galaxy. The company also revealed that the Starship will be powered by methane and liquid oxygen.
Company CEO Elon Musk announced that the SN8 will be able to fly up to 50,000 feet in the air, unlike earlier prototypes that could only reach about 500 feet in the air. Musk revealed plans to build a final model that will be able to fly at even higher heights. The model, he stated, will have three sea-level engines and three vacuum Raptors larger than those of the SN8.
The Starship is around 160 feet in height and 30 feet wide. Attached to its base is a Super Heavy Booster that adds 28 engines which will help lift the spaceship out of Earth’s atmosphere. The Booster will add about 240 feet to the height of the SN8. Musk revealed last month that the Starship will be properly checked after the first triple engine static test. Before launch, the three engines will be powered again to completely prepare for the flight.
Some artists and fans that have been following the manufacturing process of the SN8 have reacted to the three-engine static test. Bart Caldwell, a 3D artist in Minnesota, posted a picture similar to what the SN8 will look like when it is launched. The artist explained that the Starship has given him a view of what the future will look like. Musk has reacted to Caldwell’s rendition of the SN8 describing it as ‘incredible’.
By 2021, SpaceX plans to reach orbit and in preparation, the company is scheduling higher altitude flights. At the Mars Society annual convention which was held last week, Musk explained the company’s plans.
“I’m 80 to 90% that we will reach orbit with Starship next year,” the CEO stated. “I think probably 50% confident we’ll be able to bring the ship and the booster back.”
The CEO also announced that during the spaceship‘s first flights, only about two or four will be added to the Super Heavy Booster. By 2022, SpaceX predicts that it will be able to launch full flights and by 2024, its first cargo ships will be able to reach Mars as a part of the plan to build a city with a million inhabitants on Mars by 2050.
SpaceX has been making headway in achieving the space exploration plans shown on its website. In August 2019, the company flew the smaller single-engine Starhopper and also flew silo shaped ships in 2020. The test carried out on the SN8 was shared by NASA, and fans of the company on Twitter and Reddit.