Elon Musk shows the first images of the Starship spaceship
A new photo released online shows how big the spacecraft developed by SpaceX for future missions to Mars. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has in fact spread on Twitter an image showing the “belly” of the last Starship prototype, SN4, currently still on the testbed at a South Texas site of the company. The shot shows the SN4’s single Raptor engine, in the center of a compartment with a diameter of about 9 meters.
“We will launch SN4 very early. Raptor looks so small in comparison, ”Musk wrote in the tweet. In fact, as Musk pointed out, the Raptor rocket engine will soon begin a series of tests that provide for the ignition of the same while the rocket will still be anchored to the ground. In fact, SpaceX was aiming to run the engine test on Sunday night, but canceled it due to a overheating of the propellant methane from the Raptor, Musk explained in another tweet. If the startup goes well, SpaceX will begin preparing for an unmanned test flight with SN4taking the prototype about 150 meters away in the skies of southern Texas.
Elon Musk said the spaceship will be a cornerstone for future space missions
Future prototypes will go though much higher. For example, SN5 will be equipped with three Raptor rockets and SpaceX intends to send the vehicle to about 20 kilometers high, according to Musk. The final spaceship will therefore be even more powerful, even equipped with six engines. But the spaceship will need help to free itself from the gravitational grip of our planet and for this reason it will be launched from Earth on top of a giant rocket called Super Heavywhich will be powered by dozens of Raptor rockets.
Both Super Heavy and Starship will be fully reusablepotentially reducing the cost of spaceflight, so as to facilitate future missions of colonization of Mars. But Mars is not the only exploration target of the company: the Moon is also in the sights of Elon Musk and the international scientific community. In fact, NASA just awarded SpaceX a contract to equip the spaceship with a lunar lander, capable of transporting astronauts to the surface of the Moon during the Artemis programwhich aims to land the first human crews on the satellite in 2024.