Elon Musk reveals Starship to get to Mars and back

Elon Musk has unveiled a SpaceX spacecraft designed to carry a crew and cargo to the moon, Mars or anywhere else in the solar system and land back on Earth standing on its base.

In a livestreamed speech from SpaceX's launch facility near the southern tip of Texas, Musk said that the space venture's Starship is expected to take off for the first time in about one or two months and reach 65,000 feet (19,800 meters) before landing back on Earth.

The 48-year-old tech billionaire said it's essential for the viability of space travel to be able to reuse spacecraft and that it's important to take steps to extend consciousness beyond our planet.

A crowd watched as Musk spoke on Saturday from a stage in front of a prototype of the spacecraft.

"This is the most inspiring thing that I have ever seen," said Musk, dressed in a black blazer, T-shirt, and jeans.

Tesla boss Elon Musk told investors that the Semi won’t enter production until late 2020 at the earliest.
Elon Musk. File photo

The event marked the 11th anniversary of a SpaceX rocket reaching orbit for the first time.

During the presentation, Musk offered several updates on changes to Starship's design. However he spent the most time discussing the use of stainless steel as the skin of the vehicle. "Stainless steel is by far the best design decision we have made," he said.

Yes, Musk said, steel is heavier than carbon composite or aluminium-based materials used in most spacecraft, but it has exceptional thermal properties, ars technica reports.

At extremely cold temperatures, stainless steel 301 does not turn brittle; and at the very high temperatures of atmospheric re-entry, it does not melt until reaching 1500 degrees Centigrade. Starship therefore requires only a modest heat shield of glasslike thermal tiles.

Musk laid out his plan for interplanetary travel using the new 387ft-tall spaceship - which when complete could carry up to 100 people, The Sun reports.

And now that the design is complete, work will begin fast to get people strapped in and sent skyward.

It will take off for the first time in about one or two months and reach 65,000 feet before landing back on Earth.

Musk said he hopes a prototype will then reach Earth's orbit in about six months.

And if tests go well, brave explorers could start flying aboard it within the next year.

Billionaire Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and a handful of artists are booked on a trip around the Moon in the Starship in the 2020s.

But Musk said his ultimate objective is seeing human life on Mars.