Elon Musk reveals progress of Mars-bound Starship spacecraft

SpaceX boss Elon Musk has revealed the latest progress of the Mars-bound Starship spacecraft, less than a month after a prototype exploded during a test.

Images of the third prototype of Starship, known as SN3, were shared on Twitter, showing the tank and engine sections at an assembly facility in South Texas.

The Starship craft is being built for the purpose of ferrying people and cargo around the Solar System, with the eventual goal of sending people to Mars.

Launched from Earth using SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket, Starship will use its own onboard rockets to navigate and land on the surface of the planet.

SpaceX has already performed various successful tests of previous Starship prototypes, including a launch and landing of the Starhopper craft.

Earlier this month, a cryogenic pressure test was less successful, resulting in a dramatic explosion.

Before reaching Mars, SpaceX plans to use Starship for trips to the moon. Places on the spacecraft, which can hold up to 100 people, have already been reserved for a round-the-moon voyage in 2023.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be the first space tourist on the trip, having paid a significant deposit to secure his place.

Mr Musk has spoken frequently of his ambition to travel to Mars, claiming in a 2013 interview that he wanted to die on Mars, however he recently cast doubts on whether quick enough progress was being made.

“Unless we improve our rate of innovation dramatically, there is no chance of a base on the moon or a city on Mars [in my lifetime],” he said at the Satellite 2020 conference earlier this month.

“If we don’t improve our pace of progress, I’m definitely going to be dead before we go to Mars… If it’s taken us 18 years just to get ready to do the first people to orbit, we’ve got to improve our rate of innovation or, based on past trends, I am definitely going to be dead before Mars.”

The 48-year-old tech billionaire believes that colonising Mars is essential to ensure humanity’s survival from any potential mass extinction events.

Beyond building spacecraft to fly there, he has also advocated extreme methods for making Mars more habitable for humans, including terraforming the planet by blasting it with nuclear weapons.


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