SpaceX is moving along with its plans on colonizing Mars as space company founder, Elon Musk, posted new photos of the gigantic Starship prototype that’s touted to ferry humans to the Red Planet.
Over on Twitter, Musk tweeted new photos of the Starship prototype, most likely the one called Mk-1, that’s being constructed on the company’s Starship development facility in South Texas, near the village of Boca Chica.
In one of the imaged Musk uploaded on Twitter, September 17, it read: “Droid Junkyard, Tatooine,” referring to Luke Skywalker’s home planet in the Star Wars movies.
Displayed was a gorgeous photo of the nearly finished Starship prototype, with only the upper cone needed attaching. The photo was taken inside a building cluttered a variety of parts and other equipment.
Later on, Musk tweeted another photo with another jokingly caption saying: “Area 51 of Area 51,” apparently referring to the popular craze in recent weeks regarding people intent on raiding the popular American facility, Area 51, to enlighten people behind the truth about the facility and if they do keep aliens inside.
The other photo that Musk uploaded, meanwhile, is a close-up view of a ring-shaped section being lowered onto the Mk-1’s body.
The Mk-1 prototype is currently being built as a precursor to the final gigantic Starship design that will be capable of carrying up to 100 passengers and will launch atop a huge rocket called the Super Heavy.
Once finished, the final Starship will stand 180 feet (55 meters) or half the height of the Statue of Liberty.
Similar to space technology SpaceX has been developing, both of the elements, rocket, and spaceship, will be fully and rapidly reusable, Musk has said.
Interestingly, SpaceX is also building a second and similar prototype, called Starship Mk2, at the company’s Florida facilities, saying that developing two prototypes in different locations will bring about different measures in addressing potential problems to reaching, landing, and leaving the Red Planet.
According to Musk, the friendly intracompany competition will make scientists and engineers able to develop different methods such as landing on Mars’ rocky terrain, protection from the planet’s atmosphere, or even the most cost-effective procedure to launch and return Starship.
Other than that, both the Mk1 and Mk2 follow in the footsteps of SpaceX’s Starhopper vehicle, which was a separate prototype that mainly tested SpaceX’s brand new and more powerful Raptor rocket boosters, which will be used to power the Super Heavy launcher.
SpaceX has indicated that the Starship will use the Raptor engines to launch off to space after successful testing, and the Starship Mk-1 and Mk-2 prototypes will use up to three or four of which to enable them to reach higher altitudes.
SpaceX is aiming for a test flight that gets 12 miles (20 kilometers) up in October, followed by an orbital attempt “shortly thereafter,” Musk said late last month.
The final Starship, as currently envisioned, will sport six Raptors, while the Super Heavy will be powered by 35 of the same engines. Those numbers could change, however; Musk is scheduled to give a Starship design update on September 28 from the South Texas site.
The Mk1 should be fully assembled by that time, he has said.
According to SpaceX, if all goes well with the testing, Starship will be able to conduct its first operational flights could happen as early as 2021 and the space company is targeting 2023 for a crewed mission of the vehicle: a flight around the moon booked by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.
Eventually, SpaceX plans to use Starship for all the company’s spaceflight needs, from interplanetary colonization missions to satellite launches to point-to-point trips around Earth.