While SpaceX is burning the midnight oil preparing for the first suborbital test flight of its next generation Starship, it’s also stockpiling parts for the Mars rocket prototypes.
On Wednesday, CEO Elon Musk tweeted out a video from the company’s Boca Chica, Texas, development facility, showing a handful of rocket nose cones at different stages of completion.
Early Starship “hopper” prototypes have already made a pair of short, controlled “hops” from Boca Chica, near South Padre Island. The most recent saw the small vehicle rise to a maximum height of about 492 feet (150 m). The next iteration of the design is dubbed SN1 and could make a test flight to about 12.4 miles (20 km) in altitude as soon as March.
Presumably the nose cones under production are for upcoming Starship vehicles, as SN1 is under construction outdoors at the Boca Chica facility, with its schnoz already in place.
Earlier this month, Musk announced a “Starship Career Day” at the Boca Chica facility, as the company ramped up its round-the-clock production at the site. Indeed, videos like the above from nasaspaceflight.com and others show workers almost constantly at work building up SN1.
Starship is meant to eventually carry loads of humans to Mars as part of Musk’s mission to build a metropolis on the Red Planet and make us all a “multiplanetary species.”
But first it’s gotta prove it can fly higher than an off-the-shelf consumer drone, and hopefully soon.