Mon, Sep 30, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Elon Musk unveils plan for SpaceX Mars ‘Starship’


A father and son walk in front of a prototype of SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft at the company’s launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Entrepreneur Elon Musk gave space fans an outline of plans for Starship, the next-generation vehicle his Space Exploration Technologies Corp expects to use to eventually take humans to Mars.

The goal is to make “space travel like air travel,” Musk said on stage on Saturday during a highly technical presentation from the company’s Boca Chica test site near Brownsville, Texas. “We’re really right on the cusp of what’s physically possible.”

Closely held SpaceX flies its workhorse Falcon 9 and more powerful Falcon Heavy rockets for customers that include NASA, commercial satellite operators and the US military.

NASA has contracted with Boeing Corp and SpaceX to ferry US astronauts to the International Space Station through what is known as the Commercial Crew Program, but the timeline for the program has repeatedly slipped, and it appears unlikely that either company will fly the first astronauts this year.

During a question-and-answer session with journalists, Musk responded to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s tweet on Friday that said “Commercial Crew is years behind schedule.”

Bridenstine also said the agency expects the same level of enthusiasm seen for SpaceX as on “the investments of the American taxpayer.”

“From a SpaceX resource standpoint, our resources are overwhelmingly on Falcon and Dragon,” Musk said. “Let’s be clear, it was really quite a small percentage of SpaceX that did Starship.”

SpaceX is valued at US$34 billion, according to an analysis by EquityZen, a marketplace for shares in pre-initial public offering technology companies.

Musk founded the Hawthorne, California-based company in 2002.

Although he is more widely know for being the chief executive officer of electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc, space travel has long been his passion.

SpaceX is building Starship vehicles in both Boca Chica and Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Musk said that SpaceX teams are competing internally and the first crewed mission could leave from Boca Chica.

SpaceX is hoping to acquire residential properties in the hamlet of Boca Chica Village and has sent buyout offers to households.

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