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SpaceX Starship shines in Texas

SpaceX's plans to leave Earth's orbit start with this shiny creation. Starship is the next-gen spaceship that could one day deploy satellites, carry artists around the moon and even touch down on the moon and Mars. 

SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted this look at a stainless-steel Starship prototype in Texas on Jan. 10, 2019. This one isn't intended for orbital duty, but is used as a "hopper" to test takeoffs and landings. 

"Starship will look like liquid silver," Musk tweeted in late 2018. He said SpaceX is building two orbital prototypes, one in Texas and one in Florida. These new Starships are meant to launch into Earth orbit. 

Originally published Jan. 28 and updated with new Starship milestones. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Elon Musk
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spacexbfrrender

This dramatic rendering shows Starship, which was known as BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) at the time this image was released in September 2018, blasting away from a cloudy Earth. SpaceX says the ship and rocket are designed to be fully reusable and will be able to service Earth orbit as well as the moon and Mars.

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Starship as a render

Elon Musk's photo of the actual Starship prototype looks very close to this rendered version he shared in a tweet on Jan. 5, 2019. The rendering shows a smoother skin, which highlights the retro sci-fi look of the design.

Published:Caption:Photo:Elon Musk/SpaceX
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BFR launching

SpaceX's next-generation spaceship system was once set to launch with a BFR powering it into space. This artist's illustration shows a launch underway.

Elon Musk announced the new Starship name in November 2018. Technically, Starship is the upper stage that will carry cargo or people, while the rocket booster used to launch it is called Super Heavy. 

Published:Caption:Photo:SpaceX
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Starship prototype in pieces

Prior to unveiling the assembled Starship hopper prototype, Elon Musk teased the spaceship with this image shared on Twitter on Dec. 24, 2018. The vehicles in the photo help to give an idea of the scale of the massive ship. 

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Published:Caption:Photo:Elon Musk
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Starship suffers wind damage

SpaceX watcher Maria Pointer captured this image of the bottom section of the Starship hopper prototype after a violent Texas windstorm in January 2019 knocked the nose cone off onto the ground. Musk said it would take several weeks to repair the prototype, which is designed for short jumps to test takeoff and landing systems.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Maria Pointer/bocachicaMaria
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SpaceX Raptor engine

The Starship hopper, nicknamed "Starhopper," used a single Raptor engine for its first test jump in late July 2019. Elon Musk shared this low-res image of a Raptor back in February prior to a test-firing. Starship will eventually host seven Raptor engines.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Elon Musk
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Raptor fires up

Elon Musk tweeted out this fiery image of a SpaceX Raptor engine looking spitting mad. This Raptor test happened in February 2019 prior to the first Starhopper short jump in late July. The prototype "hopper" Starship uses just one Raptor engine. The first orbital versions will use three, and the final Starship design calls for seven of these powerful engines.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Elon Musk
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Starhopper prepares to jump

This snub-nosed vehicle is the Starship "hopper" prototype known as Starhopper. SpaceX is using it to test takeoffs and landings. It's designed to make short "hops" into the air. It successfully completed its first jump in late July 2019, reaching about 65 feet (20 meters) into the air and moving over slightly from where it started.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET
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starshipwindbreak

Elon Musk shared this view of an architectural windbreak built at the SpaceX Texas site to protect an orbital prototype of the Starship in August 2019. This version of Starship, which can be seen behind the windbreak, is mean to launch into Earth orbit. The structure is designed to protect it from the kinds of fierce winds that knocked the cone off the Starhopper prototype.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Elon Musk
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Behind the scenes in Texas

Elon Musk gave space fans a peek behind the scenes at the build-out for the SpaceX Starship orbital prototype in Texas in August 2019. This round object is a bulkhead that was being rotated prior to installation inside the shiny Starship. It's used to create interior compartments. If all goes well, the bulkhead will be part of one of the first Starships to reach orbit. 

SpaceX is building a second orbital prototype in Florida. The two vehicles are in a friendly race to see which one will take off first.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Elon Musk
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Musk and Maezawa

Elon Musk gave Japanese billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa a lift prior to a Sept. 17, 2018 press conference announcing the #dearMoon project to send a group of artists around our lunar neighbor in 2023. If all goes as planned, Starship will ferry Maezawa and a selection of six to eight artists on the ambitious private lunar mission. Maezawa purchased all of the available seats for the flight.

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Published:Caption:Photo:Elon Musk
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SpaceX moon illustration

SpaceX released this dramatic illustration of its Starship/BFR spacecraft posing with the moon in anticipation of one day sending a private tourism mission around the Earth's only natural satellite. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has already signed on to buy all the seats on SpaceX's planned moon trip in 2023.

These early concept images show a BFR that looks much more like a NASA space shuttle than the current shiny, stainless-steel Starship design.

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SpaceX lunar base

SpaceX is looking pretty far into the future when it comes to Starship. This artistic image shows what a SpaceX lunar base might look like. That's Earth glowing in the distance.

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Starship Mars base

This futuristic rendering shows a collection of Starships hanging out on the surface of Mars. Elon Musk and SpaceX envision astronauts initially living out of the spaceships while constructing a more permanent human settlement on the Red Planet.

Published:Caption:Photo:SpaceX
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Starship docking in orbit

SpaceX sees Starship as a multi-purpose vehicle that's not just for long-distance journeys around the moon or to Mars. It's also intended for orbital missions, such as docking at the space station or delivering satellites into space. This illustration shows the spaceship docked in orbit.

Published:Caption:Photo:SpaceX
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