On February 9, SpaceX performed the static fire test of Starship, its reusable super heavy-lift launch vehicle. In such a test the rocket goes nowhere – it's to test the performance of the engines. Starship has 33 engines, and when it launches will be the most powerful rocket system in history, beating the record set by the Space Launch System with Artemis I in November.
Starship’s first flight could happen in just a few weeks, as long as the company is satisfied with the results of Thursday’s test. Of the 33 engines on the launch vehicle, 31 fired successfully. One was taken offline before the test and the other one did not work. Even without the full ensemble, it is expected to be powerful enough to reach orbit.
The success of Starship goes beyond SpaceX's plans. The company has been contracted by NASA to have a version of the launch vehicle that can ferry astronauts from lunar orbit down to the surface of the Moon. And obviously, SpaceX owner Elon Musk has plans to get humans to Mars, although the timeline of getting a launch in 2024 doesn’t seem at all likely now.
The test was conducted at SpaceX's R&D facility in Boca Chica in Texas, at the border between the United States and Mexico.