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SpaceX launched its Super Heavy rocket for a “full duration” Raptor engine test at 3:15 pm local time in South Texas. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the launch crew shut off one engine before ignition and another stopped itself. He estimated 31 of 33 engines may have reached orbit. SpaceX may now be on schedule for an orbital test flight in late March or early April.
This rocket fired the most engines. These engines’ thrust output was likely roughly double NASA’s Saturn 5 rocket or Space Launch System. SpaceX’s launch facility in South Texas seemed unharmed from early observations.
What is the Hot Fire Test?
The hot fire test is basically a full-duration static fire test of the first stage boosters for the Super Heavy rocket. This involves firing all 27 engines simultaneously for up to 2 minutes and is designed to ensure that all systems are performing as expected. It was also used to validate the performance of the rocket’s Merlin engines, which are critical components of any successful launch.
Why Does it Matter?
The hot fire test has been seen as a major success for SpaceX, as it helps demonstrate that their engineering team has been able to design and build a powerful, reliable rocket system capable of launching payloads into orbit with great accuracy and efficiency. The successful completion of this test also puts them one step closer to launching astronauts into space, something that we have not seen since 2011 when the Space Shuttle program was retired.
It also indicates that SpaceX is on track with their plans to send humans to Mars by 2024 as part of their “Red Dragon” mission. This would be an incredible achievement, both scientifically and technologically speaking, so having this proof-of-concept testing now complete gives us hope that they may actually be able to pull it off!
The successful completion of this hot fire test demonstrates yet again why SpaceX continues to lead the way in space exploration technology. With each new milestone achieved, we get closer and closer to unlocking some truly amazing possibilities in space exploration. We can’t wait to see what comes next from SpaceX!