SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has tweeted an official photo of the space company's Raptor engine — which will be used for the Starship Mars missions — in action.
In the update, he mentioned that a technical problem caused by engine vibration had been fixed.
This comes amidst assurances from SpaceX’s vice president of commercial sales, Jonathan Hofeller, that the spacecraft's maiden voyage will likely take place in 2021.
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An engine fit for Mars
The new update by Musk should pave the way for Starship's first untethered test flights, Teslarati reports.
The 'vibration problem' likely refers to issues caused by mechanical resonance.
Exciting progress in Boca! Hopper almost ready to hover. Based on tonight’s test, looks like 600 Hz Raptor vibration problem is fixed. pic.twitter.com/9bLWOHG0sV— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 7 July 2019
Meanwhile, Space X executive Hofeller gave an encouraging update on the Starship project at the APSAT conference in Jakarta, the Daily Express reports.
“We are in discussions with three different customers [for Starship] as we speak right now to be that first mission. Those are all telecom companies,” Hofeller said.
SpaceX tested a prototype Starship in April by performing a "hop" test - the company hovered the spacecraft just inches off the ground.
Getting us to Mars
More tests, similar to the "hop" test, are set to follow — gradually reaching higher altitudes. Ultimately, once these are successfully completed, the Starship mission's aim is to take humans to Mars.
“The goal is to get orbital as quickly as possible, potentially even this year, with the full stack operational by the end of next year and then customers in early 2021,” Hofeller continued.
The 2021 launch will send satellites into orbit around the Earth.
In its own way, this launch will be a test for taking human beings to Mars as a part of Elon Musk's plan B for human civilization.