CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk has announced on Twitter that the company is less than a week away from completing the latest version of its ‘Starship’ prototype, known as ‘SN8’.
The SN8 Starship has been built to fly 60,000 feet (18.2 kilometres) before returning to SpaceX’s landing site in Texas.
The launch of the SN8 prototype is set to mark the next significant step in SpaceX’s Mars colonisation program, first announced in 2017.
This follows the successful launch of the SN5 and SN6 prototypes, which performed 150-metre test hops.
SpaceX is aiming for its first mission to Mars in 2022, if development and testing go to plan, with the objectives to confirm water resources, identify hazards and install initial power, mining and life support infrastructure.
A second, and this time crewed, mission is set for 2024, with the aim of building a propellant depot and preparing for future crewed flights. As well as interplanetary transport, Starship is designed to deliver satellites to Earth orbit and beyond.
[Related: SpaceX’s ‘Starship’ prototype taking shape]
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