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SpaceX founder Elon Musk envisions a future where humans are multi-planet species, conducting frequent voyages between Earth and Mars. “When space travel becomes as common as air travel, the future of civilization will be assured,” he said today. He has often shared that he seeks to ‘preserve the light of consciousness.’ SpaceX is developing a fully reusable Starship to make that ambitious goal a reality. The aerospace company is developing Starship at its South Texas facility located in a small village at Boca Chica Beach. Musk runs operations 24/7 at the rocket factory, where multiple shiny stainless-steel Starship prototypes are under assembly. The site is also growing rapidly with more Vehicle Assembly Buildings (VAB) under construction among other additions, pictured below.
The newest of these additions is an outdoor SpaceX Restaurant that features a futuristic design roof structure that is made out of Starships’ stainless-steel scrap metal. Musk was asked what he did with a previous MK1’s prototype’s stainless-steel fins to which he responded – “Turning them into shade for an outdoor restaurant here in Boca,” he shared. The shiny steel roof gives Tesla Cybertruck vibes.
Turning them into shade for an outdoor restaurant here in Boca— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 26, 2020
Next to the stainless-steel roof structure, are food trucks with a photograph of fantasy galaxy with Mars and another with SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft printed on it. The outdoor restaurant is still undergoing modifications; plants, stacked chairs, among other decorative features can be seen at the site.
SpaceX is preparing to conduct the first test flight of a Starship vehicle this year. The prototype that may take flight as soon as tomorrow, August 3rd [or in the week ahead] is referred to as Starship SN5. The prototype is undergoing final pre-flight preparations at the launch pad which is less than 3 miles away from the outdoor restaurant down the road.
SN5’s debut test flight will be a ‘hop’ of around 150-meters above Boca Chica Beach. Engineers will attempt to launch the massive cylinder structure then land it on a nearby landing pad. SN5 will not feature Starship’s signature nose cone with aerodynamic fins, because the flight is at a low altitude. Instead, it features a square-shape metal structure that is a mass simulator, pictured below. The test flight will offer engineers insight towards improving the spacecraft.
Last week, on July 30, Musk shared the Starship SN5 vehicle completed a static-fire test of its Raptor engine. During the test, the Raptor engine was ignited for a few seconds as the vehicle was grounded to the test stand at the launch pad. This is a routine pre-flight preparation meant to assess the engine’s performance done ahead every rocket flight.
The next prototypes in line will fly at higher-altitudes, fully assembled with nose cone. Many of these prototypes’ nose cone and midsections can be seen at the assembly factory, pictured below.
SpaceX aims to have a spaceflight-ready Starship in less than three years. Its first private passenger booked a circumlunar voyage scheduled for the year 2023. The company plans to launch a Starship carrying cargo to Mars in 2022, and the first humans by 2024. Starship will be capable of transporting tons of cargo and one hundred passengers on long-duration voyages through deep space.
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