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Elon Musk spoke about plans to colonize Mars and refine the giant Starship rocket

SpaceX’s social network X account posted a recording of a presentation that recently took place at the company’s Starbase base located in Boca Chica, Texas. The presentation was made by the head of SpaceX, Elon Musk, who during his speech spoke about the upcoming test flights of the Starship spacecraft and the company’s plans to organize an autonomous human colony on Mars in the future.

The billionaire said a fourth test flight of the Starship system is planned “in about a month or so.” This is consistent with an earlier statement from SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, who said last month that Starship’s next flight is scheduled for early May and will depend on the company being able to obtain a new launch permit from the Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA) USA.


If the company can stick to the given schedule, the fourth test flight will take place less than two months after the previous launch. The main goal of the upcoming test is for the Starship upper stage to be able to go through a “high heat mode” upon entry into the atmosphere and “fall in a controlled manner” into the ocean. Let us recall that during the third flight of the Starship system, the spacecraft was lost a few minutes after entering the atmosphere.


Musk also said that the next Starship flight will be associated with testing the technology for landing the Super Heavy launch vehicle. As part of the fourth test launch, SpaceX will try to land the carrier on a “virtual tower” in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be the next step towards practicing a controlled landing of a giant rocket.

Elon Musk

Musk noted that if the carrier successfully lands on the “virtual tower” during the fourth test flight, the next time SpaceX will try to carry out a real landing of the accelerator, to capture which during landing they will use the manipulators of “Mehazilla” – a special catcher tower for launch vehicles . “The likelihood that we will be able to catch the launch vehicle using Mechazilla’s manipulators this year is between 80% and 90%,” the billionaire said. He also noted that restoring Starship before reuse will take longer, and the company intends to conduct at least two successful controlled splashdowns of the vehicle in the ocean before attempting to land it at Starbase. According to Musk, SpaceX will be able to reuse Starship on one of its space flights as early as next year.

In parallel, the company is working to expand production to support a tighter launch schedule in the future. Along with the new Starship rocket manufacturing facility, the company is building a second launch tower at Starbase and expects another launch tower at Cape Canaveral in Florida to be operational by the middle of next year. SpaceX also plans to produce six Super Heavy boosters during this year. “We should probably expect that we’ll be doing development launches here, testing new things, building rockets, and then probably most of the operational launches will come from the Cape,” Musk said during his speech.

Elon Musk

In addition, SpaceX is working on improving the Raptor engines, which are used not only in the Super Heavy booster, but also in the Starship ship itself. According to Musk, the improved Raptor 3 engines will be able to produce up to 280 metric tons of thrust, versus 230 produced by the current generation engines. Ultimately, SpaceX hopes to improve the engines so that they can produce more than 300 tons of thrust. Such engines are planned to be used with a more massive rocket and Starship 2, which will allow delivering more than 100 tons of cargo into orbit. Moreover, the entire system will be completely reusable. The future Starship 3 will be able to launch more than 200 metric tons of cargo into space and will also be reusable. At the same time, the businessman did not specify when exactly the company plans to begin operating more advanced Starship ships.

Despite this, the businessman is confident that the launch of Starship 3 will cost less than the original SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket, which cost about $10 million. This will be facilitated by the ability to use the entire system multiple times. The billionaire estimates that the cost of launching Starship in the future could be between $2 and $3 million. “These are kind of unthinkable numbers. Nobody ever thought this was possible. However, to achieve this goal we will not have to break the laws of physics,” Musk said.

Elon Musk

The businessman did not ignore the topic of colonization of Mars. According to him, a flight to the Red Planet will require six refuelings of the Starship in orbit. To achieve this, it is planned to develop space refueling technology using a special device with fuel, which will be in Earth orbit and with which Starship will dock before flying to Mars. It was also said that for a successful landing of a ship on the surface of the Red Planet, the landing sites should be located in lowlands to provide sufficient atmosphere to slow down during descent. In addition, they must be located near the equator, since a self-sustaining human base on Mars must receive enough sunlight to generate the required amount of energy.

As for return flights, Musk believes that many people who decide to fly to Mars will never return to Earth. However, SpaceX’s long-term goal is for humans to be able to travel between planets in the future. The company also intends to build significantly more ships than boosters. This is because the ships will most likely be reused on Mars for resource extraction.

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