Elon Musk is really, really excited about his Starship

Artist's conception of 21st-century rocket ship.

Enlarge / The Starship test
vehicle, currently under assembly, will look similar to this
illustration when finished. (credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

Eleven months ago—just after SpaceX astonished the world by
launching and landing its titanic Falcon Heavy rocket while beaming
back images of a
red Tesla leaving Earth orbit
—company founder Elon Musk had
already begun to look beyond the moment.

The Falcon Heavy was a big, capable rocket. But it wasn’t large
enough to fulfill his aspirations of reaching Mars. Neither did the
company have a spacecraft capable of landing there. “They really
need to be way bigger than that,”
Musk said
of the Falcon Heavy rocket at the time. Moreover, he
noted that the launch in early February 2018 had confirmed the
company’s ability to model rocket launches on computers. “It gives
me a lot of faith for our next architecture. It gives me confidence
that BFR is really quite workable.”

In this case, BFR stood for Big Falcon Rocket. This vehicle has
since been renamed “Super Heavy,” and it will launch the spacecraft
SpaceX is building to land on Mars, take off from Mars, and land
back on Earth. The rocket is certainly titanic in size, but the
spacecraft it will carry—since branded Starship—is the greater
innovation. No nation or company has ever built a single vehicle
capable of flying dozens of people into space (especially deep
space), landing on distant worlds, and then flying back to

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Elon Musk is really, really excited about his Starship