- SpaceX is developing a stainless-steel Mars rocket system at its private launch site in South Texas.
- On Friday, SpaceX mated the lower and upper sections of StarshipMk 1 – a 164-foot-tall prototype – for the first time. The vehicle is the follow-up to a shorter and stubbier prototype called Starhopper.
- Photos and videos show the new rocket ship’s final assembly. “Starship will allow us to inhabit other worlds,” company founder Elon Musk tweeted after the vehicle was mated.
- Musk is due to provide an update on the company’s Starship program on Saturday around 8 p.m. ET from Boca Chica, Texas.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A day before Elon Musk is due to present the latest progress on Starship – an enormous and fully reusable Mars launch system – the tech mogul’s rocket company, SpaceX, has finished a gleaming prototype.
SpaceX built the new shiny stainless-steel test vehicle, called Starship Mk 1, at its launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, amid a sleepy hamlet of about two dozen residents.
Workers for the company first attached two large wings to the lower half of Starship Mk 1 in the middle of the week. They then worked through the night on Friday to add canards (or wings) to the upper section.
Over the course of an hour on Friday afternoon, they lifted the upper section with a huge construction crane, moved it over the lower section, and carefully dropped it into place. The YouTube user LabPadre, who lives in South Texas, recorded the process and shared a sped-up video:
Rachel and Gene Gore, who run the website SPadre.com (a reference to nearby South Padre Island), also live in the area and were on the scene to record the mating of Starship Mk 1 from a differentangle.
One of their photos shows workers beginning to fix the two sections into place on the end of telescoping booms:
Once filled with liquid methane and oxygen at the launch pad, though, it may weigh seven times that amount. A full-scale and operational Starship system may stand 39 to 40 stories tall once stacked atop a gigantic rocket booster dubbed Super Heavy.
Musk will present new updates about SpaceX’s Starship system on Saturday
Starship Mk 1 is not built to fly to Mars. Rather, it’s an early test vehicle to try out new technologies that will lead to a full-scale Mars ship.
Its construction follows an earlier 60-foot-tall prototype, called Starhopper, that flew to 500 feet and landed on a nearby concrete pad in August.
The latest prototype does have three car-sized Raptor rocket engines attached its base, though, which Musk hopes will propel the craft to more than 12 miles high before the end of this year. A follow-on launch may send the crude steel-paneled rocket ship around Earth.
Musk is due to present the latest news about the rocket company’s plans for Starship on Saturday around 8 p.m. ET from its southernmost launch site.
SpaceX has yet to confirm if there will be a livestream, but the company typically broadcasts from its YouTube channel just before each of Musk’s major announcements.