SpaceX has been at the helm of space travel and exploration for some time now, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the company someday plans to send people into the far reaches of space. A new rocket from the company looks to be the one that will carry passengers to the moon, and even to Mars.
Named Starship, the retro-futuristic steel rocket is awaiting field tests after its initial assembly. It looks a lot like something you’d see from the cold war era, albeit with a huge American flag plastered on the side.
What Is Starship?
Unveiled in its final form by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Twitter, the Starship is a prototype rocket with a diameter of 9 yards, or 8 meters. In his post, Musk claims the image is “an actual picture” of the rocket and not just a conceptual rendering. You can also clearly see an astronaut — or at least someone dressed up like one — standing next to the rocket.
The prototype rocket was constructed in Boca Chica, which is located along the coast of Texas. It also includes a shiny steel design and will stay as-is, unlike the company’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, which are white like NASA’s original shuttles.
For now, that’s all the news that is available about the rocket — other than the fact that it will take flight sometime in March or April for a series of tests. The SpaceX team hopes to send the rocket on suborbital “hops” before it returns to the Earth’s surface and lands safely.
After it’s paired with the company’s Super Heavy — a massive rocket booster — the entire ship will be ready for space travel. According to Musk, that is projected to happen sometime in June, which will see it orbit ready.
What Is Happening in the Meantime?
Undoubtedly, the rocket is undergoing a series of stress and composition tests to ensure it can withstand the kind of pressure necessary for takeoff and space travel. Often referred to as environmental stress screening or environmental stress tests, the process is meant to identify any hidden defects that might have occurred during development.
This type of testing first appeared in 1960s space programs, as a means to test rockets and ships for space travel — they absolutely had to be proven safe before use.
If and when the Starship is able to pass the necessary tests, the company will move on to the planned test flights.
All in all, if successful, the rocket should be able to carry up to 100 passengers at a time to and from the moon, as well as Mars. There is even talk about visiting some additional deep-space locations too.
When Will Space Travel Be Ready?
At this point in time, which is relatively early in regards to the timeline, it’s difficult to say how long it will be until SpaceX’s ships are ready to transport people to and from celestial bodies.
Currently, they are also working on something called the Dragon capsule, which will be used to transport people to the International Space Station. Estimates put the capsule in orbit sometime later this year. If that’s so, the company will have a successful model for transporting people. Beyond that, it’s a matter of developing a proper rocket — which the Starship is purported to be.
Finally, it’s crucial to point out that space travel to the Moon will take less time than it would to travel to Mars. The journey from Earth to Mars can take about 162 days, on average, with some estimates putting the trip much longer.
In either case, we will likely see space travel realized within the next decade. It is equal parts exciting and frightening, but certainly something to look forward to.
Written by Kayla Matthews, Productivity Bytes.