EspaceX is about to test its new giant rocket for the first time.
The first true Very heavy The booster was deployed from its upper bay to a launch pad Thursday, July 1 at SpaceX’s Starbase site in South Texas.
The 70-meter-tall Super Heavy is the first step in SpaceX’s fully reusable system Vessel transportation system, which the company is developing to help humanity colonize Mars, among other tasks. Upstairs is a 165-foot (50 m) spacecraft called the Starship, including a prototype passed a 10-kilometer-high test flight in May.
Related: SpaceX’s Super Heavy spaceship and rocket in pictures
This particular Super Heavy, known as Booster 3, won’t fly, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter Thursday. It will undergo ground tests to prepare for the launch of its successor during the Starship system’s first orbital test flight, which could take place as early as this summer.
This flight will be launched from Starbase. If all goes according to plan, Booster 4 will land in the Gulf of Mexico, about 20 miles off the south Texas coast. The Starship element, meanwhile, will move into Earth orbit and eventually descend into the Pacific Ocean, near the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Additional test flights with other Super Heavy and Starship prototypes will likely follow in relatively quick succession. SpaceX tends to set ambitious milestones, and Musk has said Starship could be fully operational by 2023, if development and testing are going well.
Mike Wall is the author of “Over there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.