By New Scientist staff and Press Association
Elon Musk has revealed images of his assembled Starship hopper test rocket, as the entrepreneur continues to explore ways of one day sending people to places as far as Mars.
The SpaceX founder shared the first real images of the prototype from its Texas launch site, telling Twitter followers it is “not a rendering”.
“This is for suborbital VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) tests,” Musk explained. “Orbital version is taller, has thicker skins (won’t wrinkle) & a smoothly curving nose section.”
This particular model will be used to test short launches and landings. Earlier this month, Musk said SpaceX was aiming to carry out test flights within four weeks, but admitted it could be as long as eight weeks when unforeseen issues are factored in.
The design of the rocket resembles classic spacecraft from 1950’s-era science-fiction, such as the film Destination Moon.
Responding to questions from space enthusiasts, Musk said that the first orbital prototype should be ready by June.
In November, the rocket was renamed from Big Falcon Rocket to Starship.
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