SpaceX has already transformed space travel with its reusable rocket tech. Its Falcon 9 rockets and Crew Dragon area already being used by space agency’s around the world to ferry cargo and satellites into orbit. And Elon Musk-owned company has even more spectacular ambitions: its reusable Starship, designed to take crew to the moon, Mars and beyond.
And SpaceX believes a little friendly competition will improve performance of its next-generation Starship.
SpaceX has already built a scaled-down prototype of that 100-passenger Starship craft at its South Texas facility.
And incredible photographs have revealed similar manufacturing and development work is also taking place on Florida’s Space Coast.
Cavalier SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed tweeted: ”SpaceX is doing simultaneous competing builds of Starship in Boca Chica, Texas, & Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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“Both sites will make many Starships. This is a competition to see which location is most effective.
“Answer might be both,” he said in another tweet that day.
“Any insights gained by one team must be shared with the other, but other team not required to use them.”
The reusable Starship is designed to take people to and from the moon, Mars and even deep space.
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Starship will launch atop a powerful rocket called Super Heavy, which will also be reusable.
Both Starship and Super Heavy will employ SpaceX’s next-generation Raptor engine.
Seven Raptors will power Starship, and the Super Heavy will incorporate 31 of them.
SpaceX has finished building its fourth Raptor, and the fifth is under construction at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
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SpaceX will likely hit the 100-Raptor mark by early 2020, he added.
The Texas-built Starship prototype, which SpaceX calls Starhopper, uses one Raptor engine.
Starhopper completed a brief test hop in Boca Chica last month, rising slightly off the pad while still connected to the ground via a tether.
Starship and Super Heavy already have a flight on their manifest: Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa booked a round-the-moon Starship trip, which has a target launch date of 2023.