SpaceX is continuing to share remarkable imagery from the second integrated test flight of its powerful Super Heavy booster and Starship spacecraft, collectively known as the Starship.
The latest footage (below) shows a slow-motion close-up of the Super Heavy’s 33 Raptor engines as the rocket blasted away from the launchpad at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on Saturday. Be sure to turn on the audio for the full effect.
Creating a colossal 17 million pounds of thrust at launch, the Starship is the most powerful rocket ever to have flown, exceeding the thrust of NASA’s Saturn V moon rocket and its new Space Launch System rocket by around a factor of two.
Unlike April’s test flight, this time the spacecraft successfully separated from the Super Heavy booster. But about three-and-a-half minutes after launch, the booster exploded, while the Starship continued to fly for about another four-and-a-half minutes before suffering the same fate.
Still, SpaceX engineers were pleased that the mission surpassed April’s effort and will now use the gathered data to refine the design and flights systems before they make another attempt.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said this week that Starship would be ready to fly again in December, though much depends on the outcome of an investigation into Saturday’s flight that is being carried out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
SpaceX needs a launch permit from the FAA in order to send the Starship skyward for a third time.
NASA is watching the test flights with great interest as it’s interested in using the reusable flight system for crewed missions to the moon, Mars, and other faraway celestial bodies.
The agency has already inked a deal with SpaceX to use a modified version of the Starship spacecraft to transport two astronauts from lunar orbit to the moon’s surface in the highly anticipated Artemis III mission, which is currently scheduled for 2025.