SpaceX latest: Elon Musk’s firm successfully test Starship launch ‘Mars is looking real’

The Starship rocket completed a 150-metre “hop” earlier today to demonstrate its lift-off and landing capabilities in Boca Chica, Texas. Videos show the rocket completing the relatively small jump after a huge blast of fire emerges from the bottom rocket. SpaceX boss Elon Musk tweeted following the test: “Mars is looking real. Progress is accelerating.”

The Starship is a staggering 164ft (50m) tall, 200-ton, or 1,400 tons when fully loaded.

The Starship prototype is constructed of eye-catching stainless steel instead than the carbon composite or aluminium-based materials.

This gives the SpaceX Starship “exceptional thermal properties” and a lower cost.

A refined Starship paired with a SpaceX Super Heavy booster stage will increase the rocket’s height to 387ft (117m) and capable of carrying 220,000 pounds.

The spaceship will also include the functions for “orbital refilling”, which would allow fuel to be transferred from spacecraft to spacecraft in Earth’s orbit – something which Mr Musk said is easier to do than docking at the International Space Station (ISS).

The South African-born billionaire has previously said: “This is one of the other critical pieces of the puzzle to establish a base on the moon or Mars.

“I think we should do our very best to become a multi-planet species and we should do it now.”

Starship will take humans across the solar system, and be able to return them to Earth.

It will first be used to ferry humans to the Moon, and eventually Mars when the time comes.

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said during a recent NASA-organised CLPS teleconference that Starship could be used to get humans to the Moon – which will be used as a jumping and refuelling point in the voyage to the Red Planet – in as little as three years.

Ms Shotwell said: “We are aiming to be able to drop Starship on the lunar surface in 2022.”

It has been a tremendous week for SpaceX, with the company safely returning two NASA astronauts from the ISS on Monday.

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Doug Hurley and Bob Benken returned from the orbiting laboratory on the Dragon capsule, prompting Mr Musk to welcome in a new era of the space age.

He said: “We’re going to go to the moon, we’re going to have a base on the moon, we’re going to send people to Mars and make life multi-planetary.”

He also tweeted: “When space travel becomes as common as air travel, the future of civilisation will be assured.”

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