As indicated by tweets published by CEO Elon Musk on July 21st, SpaceX’s joined Starship and Super Heavy launch vehicle (BFR) could have upwards of 41 Raptor engines at liftoff.
Likewise with every single other part of SpaceX’s next-generation rocket, this is an indication that things stay in flux as the organization nears the point when a particular design should be settled on for the first flight-prepared prototype(s). With 6 Raptors on the upper stage (Starship) and 35 Raptors on the first stage/booster (Super Heavy), the rocket will – undoubtedly – be the most dominant launch vehicle at any point created when it endeavors its inaugural launch.
Presently expected to include 35 Raptors in its final iteration, SpaceX’s Super Heavy booster would now be able to be required to create at least ~70,000 kN (15.7M lbf) of thrust at full throttle, assuming that every one of the 35 Raptors are the throttleable ~2000 kN variant. As per Musk, SpaceX may likewise build up a simplified Raptor with negligible throttling that would create upwards of ~2500 kN (550,000 lbf) of thrust.
In the event that, say, 5 throttleable Raptors were kept as the center cluster of engines utilized for landing and critical recovery-related burns, a Super Heavy booster with 30 uprated Raptors could produce upwards of 85,000 kN (19.1M lbf) of thrust at launch. Beyond all doubt, a Super Heavy booster anyplace inside those rough bounds (70 MN to 85 MN) would pack double the thrust of NASA’s Saturn V rocket and double the thrust of NASA’s being developed SLS rocket in its higher-thrust variants.
Put essentially, this is an astounding measure of thrust and energy, to such an extent that starting a c. 2019 BFR might very well destroy any launch pad in existence today, including SpaceX’s very own Pad 39A. Rated and built – in some sense – for Nova, a 10 to 20 million pound-thrust rocket intended to follow Saturn V, almost certainly, Pad 39A would/will require some significant modifications to help a full-stack Starship/Super Heavy launch, particularly with a full complement of Raptor engines installed. As per Musk, work has just started on a Starship launch structure, while the vehicle’s ‘pad’ will be arranged on the opposite side of Pad 39A as its Fixed Service Structure (FSS), the tower holding SpaceX’s Crew Access Arm (CAA).
On the off chance that all goes well, Musk – likely broadcasting his old, wildly optimistic, “Musk-time” self – believes that the first Starship prototypes (one in Texas, one in Florida) will be prepared for debut flight tests as early as September/October 2019.