SpaceX prepares new Starship for first orbital flights
Innovate or die. It’s a term often thrown about in tech circles as a not-so-subtle reminder of how resting on one’s laurels can be bad business practice, and it's an ethos that SpaceX certainly seems to be guided by. Just a few weeks after its Starhopper prototype completed its final test flight, the team is busy pulling the pieces together for a bigger and higher-flying version, which it could send into orbit within the next couple of months.
When SpaceX first launched its Falcon Heavy rocket early last year, it entered service as the world’s most powerful rocket. Eighteen months have barely passed and Elon Musk's rocket company is already hard at work on the Falcon Heavy's successor, which it is designing to carry dozens of people and cargo into deep space, including a potential mission to colonize Mars.
The Starhopper prototype that was flown twice successfully as part of sub-orbital test flights, to demonstrate the launch and landing chops of the spacecraft, has now been retired. The next prototype to take flight will be the Starship Mk1, which SpaceX engineers have been pulling together at the company’s test facility in South Texas, as seen in images Musk shared on Twitter.
The company actually has two dedicated teams developing separate prototypes of the Starship, with the other plying its trade at Cape Canaveral. The idea is that a little friendly competition can spur innovative designs and hurry the whole thing along.
Great progress by Starship Cape team. Started several months behind, but catching up fast. This will be a super fun race to orbit, moon & Mars!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2019
But it appears the Starship Mk1 under construction in Texas will be the first out of the gate. Musk has planned a technical presentation for later in the month, where he is expected to discuss the latest design for the company's next-generation spacecraft, with test flights likely to follow soon after.
Aiming for 20km flight in Oct & orbit attempt shortly thereafter. Starship update will be on Sept 28th, anniversary of SpaceX reaching orbit. Starship Mk 1 will be fully assembled by that time.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2019
Source: Elon Musk (Twitter)