SpaceX is approaching its next big leap with super heavy launch systems Starship . With the hover tests completed, the public is eagerly waiting for full-scale prototypes to be completed and lane testing to begin. Never one to disappoint, Elon Musk has posted regular updates on Twitter showing the latest advances in Starship Mk.1 and Mk.2 .
The latest images – which were shared on Tuesday, September 17 – show circulation-class test cars mounted at the company's facilities in Boca Chica, Texas and Cape Canaveral, Florida. In the first image which features music with a Star Wars reference (Droid Junkyard, Tatooine), we see stainless steel Starship standing high among a whole host of construction equipment and materials.
In second image Musk showed that part of the prototype Starship was lowered to the main body. Played on the pin-like look of the section and the small dome at the top (not to mention how the Boca Chica plant has made comparisons to a certain secret military testing facility in Nevada) he captioned this tweet with the words "Area 51 of Area 51".
When assembled, Mk.1 and Mk.2 will perform free-flight tests that will see them reach suborbital heights and then return to Earth under their own power. According to the latest FAA filings (September 9, 2019), this test will take place at Boca Chica and will consist of an "Experimental Launch, Landing and Recovery of Starship Suborbital Test Car from Boca Chica TX."  According to the same applications, launch tests with the full-scale prototype can begin as early as October 13, with an end date of April 13, 2020. These tests will validate the launch system and bring the company closer to performing commercial flights with Starship and Super-Heavy which Musk hopes to start no later than 2021.
As Musk previously stated, he hopes that Starship will also be able to carry out an uncontrolled lunar mission the same year, followed by a crew assignment one years or two later. If successful, SpaceX will have sent humans to the lunar surface a year before NASA, which is currently planning to send astronauts back to the moon in 2024 (as part of Project Artemis).
But of course, the long-term goal of Starship is to make regular trips to Mars a reality, which Musk has said will lead to the creation of a base (Mars Base Alpha in 2028) and a full-fledged colony a day. This would fulfill the purpose that SpaceX founded as early as 2002, which was to lower the cost of space missions, strengthen interest in space exploration and enable Mars colonization.
Two down, one to go …!
Further reading: Digital Trends