SpaceX is building two Starship forerunners. The first prototype named Mk1 is being built at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, and the second one called Mk2 is being built on Florida’s Space Coast.
Musk stated that the two prototypes are different from the stripped-down prototype known as Starhopper. He says that Starhopper has just one Raptor engine and will stay within Earth’s atmosphere during the testing phase. Whereas Mk1 and Mk2 have at least three Raptors and are designed to reach orbit.
The final version of Starship that will fit 100 passengers will have six Raptors. Also, Super Heavy, the rocket that will launch Starship off Earth’s surface, will have 35 of these next-generation engines, Musk said.
Musk announced on Twitter that he will give us an update on the Starship design on the 24th of August at the Boca Chica facility. And Mk1’s first flight could follow quickly after that, he wrote.
“Very convincing! Ok, Boca it is. We should have Starship Mk1 with 3 Raptors almost ready to fly by then,” Musk tweeted on Aug. 3, responding to a follower.
After two days, he posted photos of the Mk1 construction.
“Just left Starship Texas to build site. Very proud of progress SpaceX team has made! Pics are of 9m dome rotation & Starship airframe behind a windbreak,” Musk tweeted Monday (Aug. 5).
“Great progress by Starship Cape team. Started several months behind, but catching up fast. This will be a super fun race to orbit, moon & Mars!” Musk tweeted Monday.
Both Starship and Super Heavy can be reused. SpaceX plans for this system to eventually support the company’s entire spaceflight burden, such as launching satellites or taking people to the moon, Mars and even other distant destinations.
The first mission could even happen in 2021 and it is said that the first flights will probably carry commercial communications satellites. However, a crew-carrying mission is announced for 2023: The Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa scheduled a trip around the moon for himself and other artists as well.