Two fully-sized starship prototypes named SN5 and SN6 performed recently 500 ft high (150 m) test hops In SpaceX’s South Texas facilities, near Boca Chica Village. The company’s founder and chief executive, Elon Musk, said the next vehicle in the front line was almost ready.
“Starship with SN8 flap and nosecone should be done in about a week. Then static fire, checkout, static fire, fly up to 60,000 feet. [18,300 m] & back,” Musk said via Twitter On Saturday (12 September).
In pictures: SpaceX’s SN5 starship prototype mounts 1 test flight
Static fires are routine engine testing, while a vehicle is tethered to the ground. The engines that will be tested in this case are SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor – three of them to get the SN8 so high. The SN5 and SN6 sported only a single Raptor, and those vehicles also did not have body flaps or control-improving body flaps. (SN7 was a test tank which SpaceX intentionally exploded If you were wondering, during a pressure test last June.)
SpaceX is drawing attention to a final version of the starship that will include six raptors and, Musk said, is capable of transporting 100 people to the moon, Mars and other distant destinations.
The 165-foot-tall (50 m) starship will launch a giant rocket from Earth known as Super Heavy, powered by about 30 raptors of its own. Musk said the starship vehicle would be powerful enough to move away from the Moon and Mars, whose gravitational bridge is very weak.
Both Starship and Super Heavy are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable, a technological breakthrough that SpaceX believes will make ambitious explorations like the colonization of Mars economically feasible.
related: SpaceX starship and super heavy rocket in pictures
SpaceX has already booked a starship customer – Japanese billionaire Yusaku Mezawa, who will be flying around the moon on a vehicle. The target launch date for that mission is 2023.
Also starship In running NASA as part of space agency to land NASA astronauts on moon Artemis program. Artemis aims to place two astronauts near the lunar south pole in 2024 and to establish a permanent human presence on and around the moon by the end of the decade.
The starship will fly to many different destinations to many different destinations, if all goes according to plan. SpaceX plans to phase out all of its other spaceflight hardware over time, ultimately handing over all duties to Starship and Super Heavy.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out That” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the discovery of foreign life. Follow her on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.