American billionaire Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX, briefly assembled the largest rocket in history on Friday, attaching the Starship spacecraft to the Super Heavy booster at its facility in Texas. The overall height of the array is 120 meters, 20 meters higher than the Soviet H-1 super-heavy rocket, 12 meters higher than the next largest Saturn V rocket built by NASA.
The SpaceX rocket will have about twice the thrust of Saturn V, 70 meganewtons versus 25 meganewtons. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted photos of the feat, saying it was “an honor to work with such a fantastic team.” The two segments were connected to Starbase’s research and development facility in Boca Chica, Texas, for about an hour Friday before workers took them apart again. The company used a large crane to assemble the two parts.
Pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, SpaceX plans to send the spacecraft into space aboard the Super Heavy for a single orbit around Earth in the coming months. Both segments will be dumped into the ocean, but the company plans to have controlled landings on land or aboard an offshore platform so they can be repurposed, just like its Falcon 9 rocket.
In May, SpaceX made its first successful launch and landing of the spacecraft, which will serve as a vehicle for landings on both the Moon and Mars. All previous tests ended with blazing explosions. NASA selected the spacecraft for astronauts to land on the moon as part of planned Artemis missions. SpaceX also sold a private flight around the moon using Starship, to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, scheduled for early 2023.