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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Published:Caption:Amanda KooserPhoto:Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET
Starhopper takes off
SpaceX successfully launched its Starhopper prototype twice from its facility in Texas. This view is from the second (and much higher) hop, which took place on Aug. 27, 2019. The hopper was used to test the Raptor engine, as well as takeoff and landing systems. SpaceX is now constructing orbital prototypes for more ambitious Starship tests.
SpaceX is building two orbital Starship prototypes, one in Texas and one in Florida. The company's first "Starhopper" prototype was meant to test basic launch, landing and rocket systems. The new prototypes will potentially be able to reach Earth orbit, powered by at least three Raptor engines.
Musk tweeted this view of Starship construction in September 2019.
This photo from SpaceX founder Elon Musk shows the Starship orbital prototype under construction in Boca Chica, Texas, in September 2019. "Adding the rear moving fins," Musk tweeted. This prototype is designed to reach much greater heights than the "hopper" Starship that took the initial test jumps 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Elon Musk shared this photo of a Starship orbital prototype at night in September 2019. "Three Raptors already installed," he tweeted, a reference to the three rocket engines that will power the test vehicle.