“This is going to be pretty cool,” Musk said in a keynote interview at the Humans To Mars virtual summit.
Starship is SpaceX’s platform for taking people to the moon, Mars and beyond. However, in order to achieve these goals in space, it is planned to combine Starship with a powerful first stage booster called Super Heavy. So far we’ve only seen early Starship prototypes doing short test flights or “hops”.
Musk added that Super Heavy may have fewer engines than originally planned – possibly 28 Raptor engines instead of 31.
“That’s still a lot of engines. We will increase the thrust on these engines.”
He figured that Raptor might be able to lift 200 times its own weight.
When a Starship prototype could fly higher than just a jump, Musk said “likely next year” and wanted to lower expectations a bit.
“The first ones may not work,” he said. “This is new territory. Nobody has ever made a fully reusable orbital rocket … and then something twice the size of a Saturn V (the rocket that takes astronauts to the moon) that is also completely reusable … that is really something else profound. This is the gateway to the galaxy or at least the solar system. ”