SpaceX – the space company of Teslabaas Elon Musk – is busy building a test spaceship for a mission to Mars. This is evidenced by images that took place on social media last weekend and were taken in Boca Chica (Texas), where SpaceX is launching a launch base. Musk himself responded, suggesting that they are authentic.
The test spaceship is a basic version of the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which should bring 100 passengers and 150 tons of cargo to Mars. According to Elon Musk, the prototype – which he calls the ‘test hopper’ – could be launched in March or April of next year.
The tweets came Saturday in the run-up to the launch of a military satellite by SpaceX. The Falcon 9 with a GPS satellite of half a billion on board left Sunday – successfully – from the Cape Canaveral launch base in Florida.
Musk had previously stated that tests with the prototype – ‘hops’, because it concerns launches, the rocket is not brought into orbit around the earth – a big step in the direction of the construction of the Big Falcon Rocket. It will consist of a Starship of 55 meters high and 9 meters wide, which will be launched with the Super Heavy rocket booster of 67 meters high.
“I will give a full technical presentation of Starship if the test spaceship we build in Texas is successfully launched, hopefully in March/April,” Musk tweeted Saturday. “The test hopper has the same width as the Starship, but it is not that high.” The Super Heavy will be built right away as it should look in the final version.
In Boca Chica, photos were taken and shared on social media of what looks like parts of the ‘test hopper’ that arrive at the site and are assembled. A Twitterer even made a simulation of where the parts should come in the rocket.
Musk then explained the material from which the spaceship is constructed, material that has to withstand extreme pressure and temperature differences and vibrations. The spaceship must have been more than ever a human being: to Mars and back.
The question is whether SpaceX will reach the timing for the test rocket. In November Musk stated that radical changes would be made to the design of the spacecraft and this month the news that SpaceX collaborated with the American space agency NASA for the construction of a new type of heat shield for the Starship.
Musk clearly believes in it. Even more. On October 31, he announced that the first people should be able to leave for Mars in 6 years. “We still aim at 2024”, he said during an interview for the podcast Recode Decode.