SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently unveiled a new, smaller “starship” rocket designed for space travel, but not all onlookers were impressed by the craft under construction as opposed to its concept art.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently tweeted images of a new ship being constructed by the space exploration firm. The new ship has been named the Starship Alpha or Starship Hopper and has been spotted at the South Texas Launch Site in Boca Chica, Texas, where it is being assembled by SpaceX workers. Images of the ship being assembled can be seen below:
Stainless Steel Starship pic.twitter.com/rRoiEKKrYc
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2018
Some Twitter users have noted that the ship may be larger than previously expected:
Star ship hopper might be a bit bigger than we thought and with the crane placements over the nose end of the vehicle. This could suggest, @SpaceX are planning to move the segment elsewhere perhaps to the welding stand? We will have to wait and see. (Austin Barnard📸) #2019Ὠ pic.twitter.com/kn8hhUPWCU
— Austin Barnard (@austinbarnard45) January 1, 2019
Others have noted that as the ship is being constructed it’s looking less like the concept art that TechCrunch praised as “gorgeous.” Below is a picture of the rocket in its current state:
Musk is going to take 2nd place to whoever makes a 30ft papier mache volcano out of baking soda and vinegar pic.twitter.com/I5pvdPDDAA
— "Elon Says" (@ElonBachman) January 6, 2019
And this is the concept art of what the rocket is meant to look like when completed:
Starship test vehicle under assembly will look similar to this illustration when finished. Operational Starships would obv have windows, etc. pic.twitter.com/D8AJ01mjyR
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 5, 2019
Perhaps as time goes on, the final product will look closer to the version imagined by Musk, but as it stands the rocket currently has been described on social media as looking like a water tower wrapped in metal foil. Some initially believed that the rocket would feature the company’s Raptor engines at its base, which Musk verified by noting that the engines currently attached to the ship are “a blend of Raptor development & operational parts.” Musk also believes that the engine will be ready to fire in the next month, but Musk also said the exact same thing in December, so whether the rocket will be fired in February is anybody’s guess.
SpaceX reportedly plans to launch the starship to suborbital heights to prove the viability of its systems. The company also reportedly plans to replace their current Falcon and Falcon Heavy rockets with this starship model in the near future, making the success of the hopper extremely important to the company.