SpaceX's Starship Super Heavy Booster will be the largest single rocket stage in the world, and you can now get a good idea of that hulking size and the number of components needed for liftoff, thanks to a mesmerizing image shared on Twitter by the private space company's CEO Elon Musk.
The beast of a machine is designed to exert a mammoth 14.5 million lbs (6,600 metric tons) of thrust during liftoff, which is approximately twice that of NASA's Saturn V rocket used for the famous Apollo missions.
That is, of course, because the machine is designed to take the company's massive Starship into orbit, allowing it to travel to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. In order to get Starship into orbit, the Super Heavy Booster will use 29 of SpaceX's powerful Raptor engines.
Completing feed system for 29 Raptor rocket engines on Super Heavy Booster pic.twitter.com/uARWx2HYTr— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 29, 2021
"Completing feed system for 29 Raptor rocket engines on Super Heavy Booster," Musk wrote on social media alongside the image.
Super Heavy Booster will enable missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond
Musk's photo shows just how far SpaceX has come since the company announced in November last year that it was starting the assembly of its first Super Heavy Starship booster in South Texas.
In response to a tweet by Everyday Astronaut saying "I can't wait to see the full stack," Elon Musk wrote, "and that’s just the primary fuel lines! The maze of secondary plumbing & wiring is our greatest concern." Musk also provided further information, stating that "Raptor V2.0 is a major improvement in simplification, while also increasing thrust from ~185 tons to ~230 tons. The long-term goal is engine cost below $1000/ton of thrust."
Once completed, the Super Heavy will approximately be 230-foot-tall (70 m) and will weigh roughly 7.7 million lbs (3,500 metric tons) with full fuel tanks. Without the Starship attached, it is expected to be taller than SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.
Another user on Twitter counted 23 employees working inside the booster at the same time, showing the massive scale of the machine. Of course, before the enormous machine can take the Mars-bound Starship into orbit, SpaceX needs to finish up the work on its Starship prototypes. The company is currently having a small break of its quickfire Starship prototype flights, having successfully launched and landed the Starship SN15 in May. All going according to plan, SpaceX will help NASA kickstart its lunar Gateway mission, which aims to establish a human presence on the Moon by 2024 at the earliest. An exciting future lies ahead.