Musk Reads: SpaceX Starship has taken flight

Starship lifts off and a terraformed Mars map is published. How will Mars astronauts reach the surface?

Starship lifts off and a terraformed Mars map is published. How will Mars astronauts reach the surface? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #193.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Musk quote of the week

“Mars is looking real.”


Liftoff! SpaceX successfully launched the Starship "SN5‘’ prototype 150 meters into the air last week. The launch followed a static fire at the end of last month. Although the ship lacked features like the nose cone, it was the first time SpaceX had successfully launched one of its prototypes into the air. Read more.

The successful launch paves the way for more ambitious flights. This week, Musk explained that the company is aiming to host “many” flights “per day.” The “SN5” ship will need some repairs, which means “SN6” will “probably” fly first next. Read more.

Images from the successful launch show how the ship’s Raptor engine, placed asymmetrically, meant the ship launched slightly askew. It also demonstrates how the new ship resembles a silo rising into the air. Read more.

What’s next for SpaceX: SpaceX is set to launch the 11th batch of Starlink satellites in mid-August. The launch will take place from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

In other Musk news…

  • What would Mars look like with water? A new map reveals how terraforming Mars could create new continents. Read more.
  • CNBC reported that SpaceX employees were given Friday off in celebration of their efforts. The week marked successes for the Crew Dragon, Starship, and Starlink projects.
  • United Launch Alliance and SpaceX have won American military contracts for space launches until 2027. ULA will take on 60 percent of flights and SpaceX the remaining 40 percent.
  • A report from CNN this week explains how SpaceX and NASA overcame big cultural clashes to launch Crew Dragon.

Musk Reads mailroom

Roxanne Laurence writes: Elon Musk you’re a straight up genius!!! I’m 65 and you’ve given me so much in life to be excited about! Wish I was younger and could be one of the firsts to volunteer going to Mars. I’d love to be a colonist there. Isolation and hard work has never ever bothered me. I’m an avid reader and would be more then happy to spend down time with books. I play well with others so drama’s not my thing. Congratulations young man and blessings for SpaceX. Hoping one of my Grandsons sees Mars!!

Based on Musk’s previous comments, it seems the future Mars colony will need a large number of workers to support the emerging economy. There could be many opportunities in the future for the next generation to visit Mars!

Lyle Shootsine writes: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle flights had astronauts egress out of their vehicles with a little help sometimes, but the astronauts were never put on a stretcher. It is bad optics for NASA. Ask the astronaut; it’s their perogative how they want to exit the vehicle if their is no medical condition warranting stretchers. There should be a pulley/harness system or egress chair that can be used instead. Eventually, after a long mission to Mars after landing, how will the astronauts stand and walk on the surface?

There is a story about Pete Conrad pushing the Skylab crew in 1973 to walk out upon returning to Earth rather than using stretchers. NASA doesn’t appear to be averse to stretchers, though, and the Washington Post noted when the Crew Dragon capsule returned that stretchers are common for astronauts who have been without gravity for a while.

As for how astronauts will exit the Starship on Mars, one option could be an elevator. The Starship’s user guide shows such a design, and it could give the crew a gentle way of reaching the floor. One discussion on Stack Exchange noted the ending to this video seems to suggest some sort of elevator system could be the way forward.

Got any comments or queries? Don’t forget to send them over to

Video of the week

Starship takes off.

Got any photos or videos you’d like to share? Feel free to send them over to

The ultra-fine print

This has been Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #193, the weekly rundown of essential reading about futurist and entrepreneur Elon Musk. I’m Mike Brown, an innovation journalist for Inverse.

What did you think of today’s stories? Hit reply to this email to let us know. Thanks for reading!

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Related Tags