On Saturday, Sept.28th, Elon Musk stood before a crowd at SpaceX’s testing facility in Boca Chica, Texas. To the SpaceX employees, guests and reporters assembled (and the millions watching the live stream) Musk presented the fully-assembled Starship Mk.1 prototype. Musk also used the occasion, which also marked the seventeenth anniversary for SpaceX, to celebrate company milestones and update the world on the latest design of the finished Starship.
Once operational, this vehicle will fulfill Musk’s promise of conducting commercial flights to orbit, the Moon, and Mars and even the creation of off-world bases. And to give us a taste of what that would be like, Musk recently posted a video on Twitter of what the inside of the Mk.1‘s cargo bay looks like. Once operational, these bays will be where payloads and passengers destined for the Moon and Mars will stay.
The tweet was posted earlier today (Tuesday, Oct. 1st) with the caption, “Inside Starship cargo bay. Header tanks mounted in tip of nosecone to offset engine weight at rear.” According to previous statements by Musk, the purpose of these tanks is to carry the landing propellant used by the spacecraft, which are separated for the sake of greater insulation.
As you can see, the cargo bay is rather spacious and looks a little rough compared to its smooth, silvery skin. Addressing the less-than-seamless appearance, Musk indicated that the “Production version will be a lot more polished than this prototype, but still fun to see.” Indeed it is, especially since all previous images of the prototype are of the exterior.
According to the rather optimistic timeline Musk offered, the Starship Mk.1 and Mk.2 (which is still being assembled at the SpaceX facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida) could be conducting hop tests as high as 20 km (65,000 ft) in about a month or two. Beyond that, he claimed the Starship prototypes could be conducting flights in six months and carrying their first passengers to orbit sometime in 2020.
Before the decade is out, Musk also hopes to have colonies established on the Moon and Mars, effectively making the human race “interplanetary”. Be sure to check out this video of Tim Dodd (aka. the Everyday Astronaut) having a conversation with Musk and getting even more details about the future of the Starship. Check it out!