Elon Musk was in Florida for the third launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket this week, and he made a surprise visit to the company’s Starship campus in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Musk long has touted his goal for humanity to become an interplanetary species, and the company’s Starship facilities are building the prototypes to achieve it.
Starship was originally called BFR for Big Falcon Rocket. Musk announced the name change last November on Twitter.
Musk was named the recipient of the 2019 Stephen Hawking Medal of Science Communication. He had intended to accept the award in person but was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. He recorded an acceptance speech, and in the video, a prototype of the second Starship at the Florida facility was seen in the background.
Once completed, the ship is expected to be 180 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The company hopes it will be able to transport humans and cargo from Earth to Mars one day.
There are two Starship facilities, with the first being located in Boca Chica, Texas. Both are developing Starship prototypes in an intra-company competition to see which is more effective.
The Texas plant’s prototype was originally dubbed Starhopper and already has some flight experience.
Musk said on Twitter in May, “Both sites will make many Starships. This is a competition to see which location is most effective. Answer might be both.”
Musk added: “Any insights gained by one team must be shared with the other, but other team not required to use them.”
The prototypes are expected to be powered by three of the company’s Raptor engines.