Elon Musk’s SpaceX “Starship” prototype for Mars colonisation is beginning to take shape at the company’s specialist manufacturing facility in Florida.
SpaceX, which previously announced it would build prototypes in both Texas and Florida, is leasing the Cocoa facility from Coastal Steel. When finished, the metallic craft will stand 180 feet tall (39.6 metres) by 30 feet (9 m) wide.
The Starship system is the next variant in SpaceX’s procession of increasingly larger rockets. Just over a year ago, the Falcon Heavy debuted, and this past April the rocket carried its first official payload into orbit. The massive rocket, which boasts 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, is set to fly again tonight (June 24).
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.
This revelation comes following a number of milestones for SpaceX’s pursuit of developing an interplanetary civilization – with the successful test firing of the company’s Raptor rocket engine in February 2019.
The Raptor is powered by methane and liquid oxygen propellants and has been worked on for many years by SpaceX, with the first tests on the engine conducted in 2016. The testing took place in SpaceX’s facilities in McGregor, Texas, and will eventually be taken to south Texas where it will be installed on the Starship hopper.
SpaceX will also use the first ships from these missions to serve as the beginnings of a first Mars base, with the aim of building a “thriving city and eventually a self-sustaining civilisation on Mars”.
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