SpaceX's orbital Starship prototype gathers ahead of update event – TechCrunch

SpaceX has completed joining the bottom and top halves of the prototype Starship orbital scale, based in Boca Chica, Texas. The shiny silver ship, the prototype "Mk 1" that SpaceX will use for altitude testing, using three of the Raptor engines that will eventually run the production version, so the bottom and top halves mated on Friday ahead of an update like the SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will deliver on Saturday about the Starship program's progress to the next and next steps.

The prototype has a slightly different design than we have seen in the concept of the spacecraft rendering, with two bottom fins and two finds near the top of the nose of the ship. These are designed to be used to help maneuver the vehicle in flight, especially during controlled descent when it returns to Earth after missions, as Starship is intended to be a fully reusable spacecraft. That reuse, along with the reusability of the Super Heavy booster that is being developed to drive it and its cargo into space, is key to SpaceX's goal of ultimately turning people into truly multiplayer and achieving some of the company's more ambitious near-term goals a permanent human presence on Mars.

Musk also shared photos of the three Raptor engines that will be installed on the Starship Mk1[ads1] prototype. Starship's first flying prototype was a sub-scale demonstration and testing of the vehicle codenamed "Starhopper," which had only one Raptor engine and peaked around 500 feet, as calculated. Mk1 will aim to reach up to 63,000 feet in its own testing, something Musk has said will take place this year.

We want to find out more about what's next for the Starship program tomorrow, so come back here at TechCrunch for updates live from Texas.

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