Elon Musk discusses future of SpaceX's Starship system

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Weeks have gone by since the first successful flight and landing of the Starship prototype. On May 5, SpaceX finally achieved its goal of landing a Starship prototype when the SN15 touched back down without exploding on the landing pad at Boca Chica, Texas.

Shortly after the momentous occasion, SpaceX chief Elon Musk said the SN15 could be re-launched “soon”.

However, “soon” came and went with SpaceX showing no signs that it was preparing to test the SN15 again.

Now, Mr Musk seems to have moved on to his next Starship prototype.

The South African-born billionaire, who is also top dog at Tesla, released a teaser of the SN16 sitting in the bay at the Starbase – the home of SpaceX in Texas.

Alongside the SN16 was a booster, which will help propel the ship into space.

A car sits at the base of the SN16, which shows the sheer size of the Starship prototype.

Mr Musk tweeted: “Ship 16 & Booster 2, Starbase Highbay.”

When will the SN16 launch?

When the SN16 will be launched is still a bit of a mystery.

As it stands, there are no temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) or road closures around Boca Chica.

SpaceX, however, has a tendency to not announce when it will launch one of its prototypes, as it needs several things to fall into place.

For example, weather conditions will always be a factor, but as the machines are prototypes, there is every chance they could need engineering work right up until lift-off.

When the SN16, or even the SN15 does launch, it will likely follow the same flight path, as SpaceX would look to confirm that it is indeed operational and the last landing was not a fluke.

SpaceX’s Starship will make it to Mars within the 2020s, according to Mr Musk.

Mr Musk said on Twitter: “SpaceX will be landing Starships on Mars well before 2030.

“The really hard threshold is making Mars Base Alpha self-sustaining.”

Mars Base Alpha is the code-name for the first human base on the Red Planet.

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