SpaceX is rapidly moving forward with the construction of the new Starship prototype test vehicle. Known as SN1, Elon Musk snapped an image of the rocket being put together at the company’s site near the south Texas village of Boca Chica.
The private aerospace company’s CEO used his Twitter account to show the progress of the ongoing construction, tweeting a behind-the-scenes image early on Thursday morning.
The image shows the vehicle’s oxygen tank and nose cone are well-underway — together they make up the forward-most part of the rocket.
The SN1 is a redesign of the first Starship prototype, Mk1, which failed a pressure test back in November 2019. The rocket’s top blew off during a ground test on November 20, sending clouds of smoke and partial debris into the sky.
Following the explosion, Musk tweeted that Mk1 had some value as a “manufacturing pathfinder,” but that they would move on to a different model for further testing. This snapshot provides the first good glimpse of that new model in full swing.
Anticipation for the capsule has been growing since late 2019, when Musk announced on Twitter on December 27 that SpaceX had started constructing a new prototype test vehicle.
“We’re now building flight design of Starship SN1, but each SN will have at least minor improvements, at least through SN20 or so of Starship V1.0,” Musk stated.
The Starship spacecraft is a commercial, reusable launch vehicle that will be capable of carrying around 100 passengers to outerspace destinations such as the moon or Mars. Musk is especially keen on delivering passengers to the Red Planet, with plans to colonize Mars this century as part of a vision for a new era of space travel and human exploration.
Musk’s hype around Starship may eclipse excitement for another SpaceX milestone scheduled for this Saturday, January 18. The company plans to launch a test flight of the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center.
The launch will test Crew Dragon’s ability to separate successfully from the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of an emergency. The test is one of the last SpaceX needs to complete successfully before Crew Dragon can be used to transport astronauts into space, according to NASA. Inverse will be following along closely, so keep your eye on our site for the latest updates over the next week.