In the last few months, teams of SpaceX engineers working on the flat coastal plains of South Texas and in a nondescript industrial yard on Florida’s Space Coast have been building two futuristic-looking stainless steel rockets — or Starships — prototypes for a reusable vehicle the company claims could one day ferry people to Mars.
SpaceX launched its sub-scale Starship “hopper” spacecraft on a brief unpiloted up-and-down test flight at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas, test facility Tuesday, a dramatic demonstration of rocket technology intended to pave the way to a new, more powerful heavy lift booster and, eventually, crew-carrying interplanetary spacecraft.
Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive, spoke with reporters via conference call May 15 as the company prepared for the launch of the first 60 satellites to build out a network of potentially thousands of broadband relay stations in low Earth orbit providing high-speed Internet to consumers around the world.
SpaceX ground teams at Cape Canaveral transferred a Falcon 9 rocket to launch pad 40 and rotated the booster vertical Monday for a preflight hold-down firing, ahead of a liftoff scheduled for Wednesday night carrying 60 satellites into orbit for the company’s planned Starlink broadband constellation.
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said Thursday that the company’s recovery fleet in the Atlantic Ocean recovered the two halves of the Falcon Heavy’s payload shroud after the heavy-lifter’s second launch from the Kennedy Space Center. Musk said the company plans to reuse the fairing for the first time later this year.