SpaceX's massive starship: Explained

How Elon Musk is going to take us to the Moon and Mars.

Originally Published: 

Someday, a massive ship might ferry 100 people to the Moon — or even Mars.

This is Elon Musk’s dream for Starship, the super heavy lift rocket in development at SpaceX.

In its final form, Starship is expected to measure 400 feet tall and 30 feet wide — an engineering marvel.

The Super Heavy booster that will carry Starship to space will hold 37 Raptor engines. Each engine can produce more than 300,000 thousand pounds of thrust.

Steve Jurvetson/Twitter


And the whole thing will be fully reusable, able to carry humans to space and back home multiple times.


Starship could be the craft that helps NASA’s Artemis program establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon — and then travel to Mars.


In April 2020, SpaceX was selected as one of three private firms to develop and build a human landing system for Earth-to-Moon travel for the Artemis program.

Starship has seen some setbacks. In May 2020 the SN4 prototype exploded during an engine test.

But SpaceX wasn’t deterred, and on August 4, the SN5 prototype lifted off, rose 500 feet into the air, and landed successfully.

Elon Musk/Twitter

Over the coming months, SpaceX is expected to perform more short hop tests with the Starship prototypes and prepare it for a future satellite launch and a trip around the Moon.

Elon Musk/Twitter

Read more about SpaceX and Elon Musk here.

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