On Saturday evening, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a presentation in Boca Chica, Texas, about the development of his company's next-generation rocket, called Starship. The spaceship is intended to fly hundreds of passengers to distant destinations such as the moon and Mars. Flanked by a gigantic prototype of the vehicle, Musk promised that Starship could fly into orbit within six months from now and could carry its first passengers sometime next year.
"This thing starts, flies up to 65,000 feet – about 20 kilometers – and comes back in about one to two months," said Musk, referring to the stainless steel prototype behind him. The gigantic test item was next to a SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket, the first vehicle to orbit the company. The staging was symbolic, especially since the presentation took place on the anniversary of the first flight of SpaceX to a job with the Falcon 1.
The test rocket in Boca Chica towers over 50 meters and has three of the SpaceX & Raptor engines attached to the base. The goal is to test the launch and landing capabilities that the final Starship vehicle should be a fully reusable system. The prototype will use its engines to fly at high altitudes and then lower down again, which is called a propulsion landing – the same technique that SpaceX uses to land its currently operational missiles.
SpaceX still has a lot of work to do to make this thing fly so fast. The Starship prototype provides an impressive view of the ground. It becomes even more of a spectacle when it finally goes up in the air.