SpaceX's Mars colonizing rocket will be even more powerful than we had imagined.
Super Heavy Megabooster, which will launch SpaceX's 100-passenger Starship vehicle against Mars, the Moon and other distant destinations, was originally seen as having 31 next-generation Raptor engines. But the rocket will actually sport 35 Raptors, the company's founder and CEO Elon Musk announced yesterday (July 21).
"Starship Super Heavy with 35 Raptors," said Musk via Twitter . "Full pile is 41 rn, but pretty begging for just another," he added in another tweet yesterday.
Related: SpaceX's Starship and Super Heavy Mars Rocket in Pictures
Full pile is 41rn, but quite begging for just another … July 21, 2019
Starship will be powered by six Raptors, explaining that "41" reference (35 + 6 = 41).
When it comes to "begging for just one more" – it could be a reference to Douglas Adams "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", the seminal sci-fi book series that counts Musk among its many fans. In the series, a computer named Deep Thought determines the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is 42.
Musk has promised a more involved update of the Starship Super Heavy system soon – shortly after Starships test prototype Starhopper flies unbound for the first time. That milestone was supposed to happen last week, but SpaceX pushed things back after Starhopper was engulfed in flames during a pre-fire of static fire test.
Starhopper came out of the fireball, which was caused by a fuel leak after the test, mostly unharmed said Musk. The company aims to perform the unbound hops once this week.
This first iteration of Starhopper has a Raptor engine. The vehicle has made two short, bound hops to date, both in early April at SpaceX's South Texas launch site. Future, higher flying versions of the vehicle are likely to have three Raptors, Musk says.
SpaceX envisions that Starship and Super Heavy eventually take over all of the company's space missions, from launching satellites to tall astronauts to cleaning up garbage. The company has one Starship Super Heavy mission officially on the stall, a tour of the moon commissioned by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.
This flight is targeted at 2023. But SpaceX hopes to start commercial operation of Starship and Super Heavy already in 2021 probably with commercial satellite launches.
Mike Wall's book about the search for aliens, " Out There " (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate ), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook .