SpaceX may launch its next test flight of a prototype of its Mars rocketship this week, founder and chief executive Elon Musk said on Twitter on Sunday.
He tweeted concerning test fires and the planned schedule: “Just a static fire tomorrow. Flight no earlier than Wednesday.”
The company is trying to develop Starship, which is designed to carry dozens of people on long-range flight so that it would be possible to colonize Mars. Starship will be “the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed,” according to the SpaceX website.
Starship prototype Serial Number 8, or SN8 will try to reach about 50,000 feet altitude.
SpaceX launched the prototype of its Mars rocketship hundreds of feet into the air, then landed it upright in previous successful test flights on Aug. 5 — the prototype’s predecessor SN5 — and Sept. 3 — the prototype’s predecessor SN6.
The August flight of SN5 lasted barely 45 seconds and reached just 500 feet at the southeastern tip of Texas near Brownsville, but was an important first for SpaceX’s Starship. Some earlier tests ended in explosions on the pad.
“Mars is looking real,” Musk tweeted after the short hop. “Progress is accelerating.”
Musk said several more short hops are planned before a test version of Starship aims for a high altitude. The latest test model is relatively plain: It stands a full-scale 100 feet tall and resembles a steel silo — or stretched-out can — with a cap on top.
The private company plans to launch reusable Starships atop still-in-the-works rockets, carrying cargo or crew to low-Earth orbit, the moon and Musk’s most desirable destination, Mars. The entire stack will stretch nearly 400 feet.