Elon Musk hints next Starship launch could happen in WEEKS amid Mars mission pledge

SpaceX show the Falcon 9's first stage landing

It comes after photos emerged of two test models of the rocket standing side by side at the rocket company’s launch pad in Boca Chica, USA. SpaceX is currently constructing its 10th test version of Starship – dubbed SN10 – as part of the spacecraft’s ongoing development process.

Recently, a Twitter user sent a photo of two Starship rockets standing next to one another and asked: “With SN10 nearly complete and repairs being done at the landing pad, do you think this is something we will get to see in the next few weeks?”

The user did not clarify what they meant by “this,” but some observers have taken it to refer to a simultaneous launch of two prototypes.

Mr Musk responded with a simple “Yes”. He did not elaborate on any concrete date for the next test launch.

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The Independent reports the flight test would involve the upcoming SN10 rocket as well as the SN9, which has not yet flown.

Late last year, the last Starship test launch, featuring the SN8 model, captured headlines when it flew vertically to 40,000 feet before executing a horizontal belly flop towards the Earth.

SN8 then fired its engines to correct itself to an upright position before attempting landing.

READ: Space calendar 2021: All the SpaceX launches, NASA missions, and Mars landings this year

However, the spaceship touched down too hard and exploded on landing. SpaceX said this caused by “low pressure in the fuel header tank”. The company hailed the test as a success.

SN9 was moved onto the Boca Chica launch pad just two weeks later.

Subsequent road closures prompted speculation the company could be preparing for a test launch of SN9 before the end of 2020, though this did not materialise.

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Eventually, SpaceX hopes to use Starship for manned missions to Mars, which will be a first for humanity when it is achieved.

Meanwhile, the company is also gearing up for a test of its Super Heavy rocket booster, which is what Starship will eventually sit on top of in order to launch it into orbit.

The rocket booster will be 240 feet tall and feature 28 Raptor engines in total.

In comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket – now a workhorse for International Space Station deliveries and satellite launches – makes use of nine engines for its first launch stage, though they are of a different type.

Mr Musk said last month he was “highly confident” that SpaceX would launch humans to Mars by 2026, but potentially even earlier “if we get lucky”.

The SpaceX CEO has recently come under fire from human rights activists after he voiced criticism over the use of gender pronouns on Twitter.

Mr Musk claimed to “absolutely support trans” but added “all these pronouns are an esthetic nightmare”.

The Human Rights Campaign foundation called the comments “completely contrary” to a “safe, inclusive, and fair work environment” and called on him to apologise, according to CNBC.

Months prior, Mr Musk tweeted “pronouns suck,” but deleted the post after facing criticism from his partner.

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