Elon Musk shows off fiery SpaceX Starship heatshield test

Feeling hot, hot, hot.

Jackson Ryan Former Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Jackson Ryan

SpaceX is on fire.

Figuratively speaking, of course. As if they've just dropped back-to-back-to-back buckets in a game of NBA Jam. 

After successfully sending the first commercial crew capsule to the International Space Station in early March, Elon Musk's spaceflight company is on a hot streak and it's looking to continue that with an upcoming test launch of its much-discussed Starship. 

But before Starship gets off the ground, Musk has given spacefaring fans a glimpse of the hexagonal heatshield tiles that will eventually protect the craft from searing heat.

Musk explained that the hottest parts of the heatshield, glowing white in the short video above, reached a maximum temperature of around 1650 Kelvin (approx. 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, approx. 1,375 degrees Celsius). He suggested this could withstand the extreme temperatures associated with returning to Earth, but it is slightly lower than the temperatures NASA's Space Shuttles were built to withstand (approx. 1,500 degrees Celsius).

On March 12, the Raptor rocket engine -- which will eventually help power Starship to the moon and beyond -- was spotted in Boca Chica, Texas, where SpaceX are gearing up for Starship's first test "hops". The hops will test the takeoff and landing capabilities of a Starship prototype, affectionately known as "Starhopper", and the Raptor engine.

On Friday, a Twitter user, Austin Barnard, snapped photos of the Raptor engine affixed to the Starhopper for the first time. With all of the machinery in place, Musk believes the test hops will take place within the coming week.

Elon Musk Shows Off the Shiny SpaceX Starship

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