Gifts Under $30 Gifts Under $50 National Cookie Day 'Bones/No Bones' Dog Dies iPhone Emergency SOS Saves Man MyHeritage 'Time Machine' Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Trailer Indiana Jones 5 Trailer
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you
Accept

SpaceX Shares Gleaming Glamour Shots of Starship on Orbital Launchpad

There's no launch date for the next-generation spacecraft yet, but Starship sure looks ready to head to space.

A shiny, pointy ended Starship spacecraft is set on top of a shiny rocket booster with glowing clouds behind it.
SpaceX stacks Starship on the orbital launchpad in Texas. 
SpaceX

SpaceX has a lot riding on Starship, the next-gen spacecraft it intends to send to the moon and eventually to Mars. But Starship hasn't made it to orbit yet. In a sign a pivotal orbital flight test could actually happen in the near future, SpaceX has shared some hype-building photos of Starship on the launchpad.

SpaceX tweeted the dramatic views this week with a series of photos showing the shiny silver spacecraft being set on top of a rocket booster at the launch site in Texas. "Starship 24 and Booster 7 fully stacked on the orbital launch pad at Starbase," the company said.

SpaceX numbers its prototypes and boosters, so 24 and 7 are the latest combination. The company conducted a series of test flights of earlier prototypes, but the big goal is to get Starship into orbit with a lift from a Super Heavy Booster. SpaceX has been firing up the booster to test it out ahead of the big launch.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, has a tendency to talk up optimistic timelines. Last month, Musk said Starship could go into space as early as October, but that November was "highly likely." Starship still needs to make it through pre-launch tests and get a final okay from the Federal Aviation Administration for its demonstration flight.

On Wednesday, Musk tweeted another look at Starship on the pad, saying, "This is real." 

Starship's future is already partially mapped out. NASA picked SpaceX to deliver Artemis astronauts to the surface of the moon. Billionaire entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa intends to be on board for a Starship trip around the moon in 2023. Space tourism pioneer Dennis Tito also signed up to take Starship around the moon on a different voyage. All of that starts with Starship getting to orbit and, hopefully, returning safely to Earth.

Until SpaceX lights that candle, space fans will have to be content with pretty pictures.