A prototype of SpaceX’s heavy-lift rocket that could one day send humans on deep-space missions could begin flying within the coming months, according to CEO Elon Musk.
Named “Starship,” Musk responded via Twitter Friday night that the Texas and Florida prototypes are scheduled to fly in two to three months.
The aerospace company is currently building its Starship prototypes in two locations: Boca Chica as well as in the isolated dirt pathway on Cidco Road here in Cocoa.
Simultaneously building multiple Starships in both locations, Musk said in May, they would look to see which location is most effective.
“Both sites will make many Starships,” Musk said via Twitter. “This is a competition to see which location is most effective. Answer might be both.”
In order to be ready to fly from Kennedy Space Center pad 39A, Musk said a separate Starship launch structure is being built off-site.
As for what will happen to the old launch tower in pad 39A. Musk said, “(It) won’t change. Starship launch structure will be attached to the other side from tower.”
The ultimate goal is to build a Starship and Super Heavy rocket – the massive booster that will carry Starship, which together would stand at nearly 400-feet in height and would send crewed and cargo missions beyond low-Earth orbit including to the moon and Mars.
SpaceX already has its first paying customer for Starship – a Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, has paid for several seats on Starship for a trip around the room scheduled no earlier than 2023, one year before NASA is scheduled to return humans to the moon.
The first full test flight is currently scheduled for no earlier than 2020.
Meanwhile, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 40, SpaceX is targetting to launch its cargo Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket for the 18th mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract on July 24, the 50th anniversary of when Apollo 11 splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
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