Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, wants his spaceship spaceship to orbit the earth within six months, he said during an evening presentation on September 28. The event seemed square to fans, with little new information and lots of SpaceX history.
"This is going to sound crazy, but I think we want to try and get a job in less than six months," said Musk. "Provided that the speed of design improvement and production improvement remains exponential, I think this will be correct within a few months."
During the presentation at SpaceX's test facility near Boca Chica, Texas, just north of the Mexican border, Musk also said he expected the Starship prototype behind him to do sky-high "hops" in a few months to a height of 65,000 feet. After that milestone, Musk indicated that the next flight goal would be to reach a job.
A representation of Starship shown at the presentation indicated that the ship will have a length of 50 meters (approximately 164 feet) and a diameter of nine meters (approximately 30 feet), and should eventually be able to lift a load capacity of 150 tonnes. The Starship is launched into space by a huge rocket called the Super Heavy. The Super Heavy also has a diameter of nine meters, with a length of 68 meters (223 feet).
The Super Heavy can contain up to 37 raptor engines, according to Musk. But he added, "I'm not sure if we're going that high." Musk said the number of engines may vary depending on the mission, and indicated that the minimum number of engines for the booster could be around 24.
For the most part, Musk announced nothing new. He discussed Starship's already announced design decisions, including his decision earlier this year to change the material used to build Starship from carbon fiber to steel. He also showed clips from previous SpaceX performances, including the first Falcon Heavy launch in 2018 and the successful "hop" of his prototype Starhopper test vehicle in August.
A possible reason for the nostalgic emphasis was in addition to the shiny stainless steel prototype of the Starship – a much smaller SpaceX spacecraft, the Falcon 1. Eleven years later, the Falcon 1 became the first private liquid rocket to orbit on September 28, 2008.
"If that launch had not been successful, it would have been the end of SpaceX," said Musk. Instead, the company has now had 78 successful launches and wants to do much more.