Elon Musk shares photos of SpaceX engineers fitting 29 engines to Starship before its first attempt at orbit

Elon Musk shares photos of SpaceX engineers fitting 29 engines to Starship before its first attempt at orbit
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starship moon human landing system
What a Starship moon mission could look like. SpaceX
  • SpaceX engineers have been fitting engines to Starship's rocket booster, Super Heavy.

  • CEO Elon Musk shared photos of the event on Twitter. The first shows him holding his child.

  • SpaceX on Monday said it installed 29 engines to prepare for the spacecraft's first orbital flight.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Elon Musk on Monday shared photos of SpaceX engineers installing "Raptor" engines on a Starship launch vehicle before it blasts off for its first orbital flight.

SpaceX confirmed in a tweet on Monday that engineers fitted 29 Raptor engines to the 23-story Super Heavy rocket booster, the first stage of the reusable two-stage Starship spacecraft.

Raptor engines, which were developed internally by SpaceX, are powered by liquid oxygen and cryogenic liquid methane. Each engine has more than double the thrust of the Merlin engine found on SpaceX's earlier Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 launch vehicles.

Musk posted a photo on Twitter showing him holding his one-year-old child, X Æ A-12 Musk, with Starship's Super Heavy booster in the background.

"Installing Starship booster engines for first orbital flight," he wrote in the caption.

A second photo posted by Musk was a closeup of the green Raptor engines fitted underneath the Super Heavy booster. These engines will launch Starship into orbit for trips to the moon and Mars.

In July, SpaceX carried out its first static fire test on Super Heavy, firing up three Raptor engines while the booster remained on the ground. Now it's preparing for its first orbital flight, which will launch from Texas and splash down off the coast of Hawaii.

Musk said in May that Starship's Super Heavy booster would have 32 Raptor engines fitted by the end of 2021.

SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell hoped Starship would blast off in July but that didn't happen. The company is hoping for a launch before the end of 2021 but this depends on it getting the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is conducting environmental reviews of its Texas launch site.

A source told CNN in June that the FAA's assessments of wildlife and ecosystems around SpaceX's launch area in Texas could push back the date of the Starship launch.

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