According to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, the first orbital prototype Starship, colonized by Mars, is expected to be operational soon. SpaceX builds two orbital precursors for spaceships – a type of in-house competition designed to enhance the design of the ultimate spacecraft. Known as the Mk1, the prototype is assembled at the company’s plant in Boca Chica, Texas, while Mk2 is being built on Florida’s space coast. The models Mk1 and Mk2 differ from the stripped-down prototype Starhopper, which made its first jump without cable in Boca Chica recently. Starhopper has only one Raptor engine and remains firmly in the Earth’s atmosphere throughout the test phase. By contrast, Mk1 and Mk2 will have at least three raptors and will be in orbit, Musk said.

A piece of SpaceX’s “Mk1” orbital Starship prototype at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted this photo on Aug. 5, 2019.
(Image: © Elon Musk via Twitter)

The finished 100-passenger version of Starship will carry six raptors. Super Heavy, the giant rocket that will launch Starship off the surface, will have 35 of these next-generation engines, Musk said recently. But we will soon find out if these specifications have changed. The billionaire announced via Twitter that he would release a new design for Starship in Boca Chica on August 24th. And the first flight from Mk1 could come shortly after this event, he added. Very convincing! Ok, Boca is. By then, we should be nearly ready to fly Starship Mk1 with 3 Raptors, “Musk tweeted on August 3, and responded to a supporter who had scheduled the event in Boca Chica (Musk had previously announced to provide the update) either from Boca Chica orCape Canaveral.)

Just left the construction site of Starship Texas. Very proud of the progress made by the SpaceX team!

Starship-Super Heavy’s first mission could start in 2021, SpaceX officials said. The first flights are likely to open commercial communications satellites. But 2023 is a mission with crew: The Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa booked for himself and a handful of artists a journey around the moon.