The Starship Hopper is ready to begin its mission. Or at least, it's ready for some test launches.
Thursday night, Elon Musk announced the test-flight version of his Starship had finished assembly. Previous images showed renderings of the planned spacecraft, but now we have it in reality.
It's a shiny craft that looks a little like a stainless steel travel trailer. However, it is far larger.
Notice the little astronaut for scale.
Starship test flight rocket just finished assembly at the @SpaceX Texas launch site. This is an actual picture, not… https://t.co/YIl2NlwTHZ— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1547177500.0
This is for suborbital VTOL tests. Orbital version is taller, has thicker skins (won’t wrinkle) & a smoothly curving nose section.— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1547177792.0
This Starship is designed for 'hopping' tests. Very similar to the test ship Falcon 9 Hopper in 2013, the craft takes off a predetermined distance into the sky and lands again. This helps test the launch and landing mechanisms, which is what allows SpaceX to reuse their rockets.
People are ready to go to space.
Every little kid has a dream of making a spaceship. Elon Musk was just the one that didn’t let adult expectations c… https://t.co/lwCVwpxodZ— Bobbie Byrd (@Bobbie Byrd)1547214930.0
@elonmusk Bro Elon Musk, Im in love with all the work you for this humanity. As I get older I will try to help you… https://t.co/MDNEnMut7H— Anderian (@Anderian)1547197553.0
@elonmusk @SpaceX Thanks Elon, I love what the future is bringing us all! But I gotta know, do you see a similarit… https://t.co/TClkTBOGMp— Gregory Austin (@Gregory Austin)1547184431.0
However, people also discovered the photo presented was carefully curated. A different Twitter user drove past the shuttle and took pictures and video.
The internet was quick to point out the perceived deception.
Starship taking shape! 👽 (photos from today) #BocaChica #SpaceX #Starship https://t.co/KY8oo5LBfn— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo)1546998866.0
me when I post a selfie vs IRL https://t.co/0j4Wnqh0oE— ok girl (@ok girl)1547194067.0
@TeslaCharts https://t.co/mTL4p5zftL— ᴊsʜ (@ᴊsʜ)1547177718.0
Others joked about the overall design of the rocket.
Did Musk get his spaceship designs from 1950’s science fiction? https://t.co/2JRbD9o9YX— OldManBeaston (@OldManBeaston)1547178006.0
@elonmusk @SpaceX Goddammit Elon I told you not to steal my spaceship drawings from when I was 6— CheeseInTheOven🧀 (@CheeseInTheOven🧀)1547181988.0
The current iteration of the Starship is just a test. Much like the Falcon 9 Hopper, this vehicle is designed to test various components. An official prototype of the final Starship is planned to be completed by June, according to Musk.
In the meantime, he needs to make plans for the Hopper's tests.
@LPAmdee @SpaceX Aiming for 4 weeks, which probably means 8 weeks, due to unforeseen issues— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1546702586.0
SpaceX has already sold out tickets for a planned orbit around the moon. The mission is scheduled for a 2023 launch. If all goes to plan, they will be the first humans since Apollo 17 to visit the moon's orbit.