SpaceX rolls giant Super Heavy rocket to launch pad for testing (video)

SpaceX is getting ready to test its giant new rocket for the first time.

The first true Super Heavy booster was rolled out of its high bay to a launch pad Thursday (July 1) at SpaceX's Starbase site in South Texas. 

The 230-foot-tall (70 meters) Super Heavy is the first stage of SpaceX's fully reusable Starship transportation system, which the company is developing to help humanity colonize Mars, among other tasks. The upper stage is a 165-foot-tall (50 m) spacecraft called Starship, a prototype of which aced a 6.2-mile-high (10 kilometers) test flight in May.

Related: SpaceX's Starship and Super Heavy rocket in pictures

SpaceX rolls a full-size Super Heavy booster from the high bay to the launch pad at its Starbase site in South Texas on July 1, 2021. The booster will undergo ground tests to help prepare for an orbital test flight of SpaceX's Starship transportation system. That flight will use a different Super Heavy booster, company founder and CEO Elon Musk said.

(Image credit: Elon Musk via Twitter)

This particular Super Heavy, known as Booster 3, will not fly, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter Thursday. It will undergo ground tests intended to pave the way for its successor to launch on the first orbital test flight of the Starship system, which could occur as early as this summer.

That flight will launch from Starbase. If all goes according to plan, Booster 4 will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico, about 20 miles (32 km) off the South Texas coast. The Starship element, meanwhile, will power its way to Earth orbit and eventually come down in the Pacific Ocean, near the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Additional test flights with other Super Heavy and Starship prototypes will likely follow in relatively quick succession. SpaceX tends to set ambitious milestones, and Musk has said that Starship could be fully up and running by 2023, if development and testing go well.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.