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Starship and Super Heavy: SpaceX's Mars-Colonizing Vehicles in Images

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SpaceX's Super Heavy rocket booster launches the Starship interplanetary spacecraft in this still from a SpaceX animation.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship and Super Heavy

Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 primarily to help humanity settle Mars. Here's a look at the gear the company is developing to do just that — a giant rocket called Super Heavy and a 100-passenger vehicle called Starship. Above, a still from a SpaceX animation shows Starship launching on a Super Heavy rocket. 

Video: See SpaceX Starship Launch in New Animation

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled this new rendering of the company's Big Falcon Rocket spacecraft ahead of the announcement Sept. 17, 2018 of the first passenger to fly a trip around the moon.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX)

"BFR" in 2018

Starship and Super Heavy have gone by several names. When first unveiled in 2017, the duo was known as the Interplanetary Transport System. A year later, Musk changed the name to BFR, short for "Big Falcon Rocket" (or "Big F***ing Rocket). In November 2018, it was renamed again to "Starship."

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Elon Musk tweeted this photo of the newly assembled Starship Mk1 prototype on Sept. 27, 2019.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

Starship Mk1 Construction Complete

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk tweeted this photo of the newly assembled Starship Mk1 prototype on Sept. 27, 2019.

Full Story: SpaceX Finishes Assembling New Starship Prototype (Photo)

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SpaceX plans to modify Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center to host launches of its Starship vehicle and Super Heavy booster.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship Separating from Super Heavy

An artist's illustration of Starship separating from its Super Heavy rocket after launch.

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

To the Moon!

An artist's illustration of SpaceX's Sharship with a moon base. Elon Musk said that Starship could help build a human outpost on the moon. 

Related: Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX's New Starship Plans for Private Trips to the Moon, Mars and Beyond

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship Missions to Mars

Starship could provide the transportation infrastructure necessary to build the first human outpost on Mars, Elon Musk said.

Related: How SpaceX's Starship Will Help Establish a Mars Base

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship in Deep Space

Starship isn't just for mission to the moon and Mars. It could someday even launch human missions farther out into the solar system to planets like Saturn. 

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

Stage Separation

A still from SpaceX's new Starship animation shows the spacecraft separating from the Super Heavy rocket after liftoff.

Related: Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX's New Starship Plans for Private Trips to the Moon, Mars and Beyond

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

In-Orbit Refueling

One of the key elements of SpaceX's Starship plan is the ability to refuel the spacecraft in orbit. After launching, Starship will rendezvous with a tanker in orbit and refuel before heading out to Mars or other deep-space destinations. You can see how it's done in this SpaceX animation.

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

In-Orbit Refueling

One of the key elements of SpaceX's Starship plan is the ability to refuel the spacecraft in orbit. After launching, Starship will rendezvous with a tanker in orbit and refuel before heading out to Mars or other deep-space destinations. You can see how it's done in this SpaceX animation.

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

How Starship Stacks Up

This SpaceX infographic shows how enormous the finalized Starship and the Super Heavy will be compared to to a human, the Starship Mk1 prototype, the Starship Hopper test vehicle ... and the Millennium Falcon.

Video: SpaceX Starship vs. Millennium Falcon in Size Comparison - Elon Musk Explains

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

Sizing Up Starship

The Starship is 164 feet (50 meters) long with a diameter of 30 feet (9 meters). Its dry mass is approximately 120 tons. It can launch payload of up to 150 tons and return to Earth with a 50-ton payload.

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

The Heat Shield

To protect passengers from extreme temperatures during entry into the atmospheres of Mars or Earth, Starship has a heat shield made of stainless steel and ceramic tiles. 

Video: Space Starship's 5 Engines and Heat Shield - Elon Musk Explains

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

The Super Heavy Rocket

The Super Heavy rocket that will launch Starship will have 37 Raptor engines and six landing legs. It's about 223 feet (63 meters) tall.

Video: How Will SpaceX's Starship Land? Elon Musk Explains Design

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship's Engines

Of the six Raptor engines on Starship, three will be sea-level engines while the other three are reserved for use in the vacuum of space. 

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SpaceX’s newly assembled Starship Mk1 prototype stands tall at the company’s launch facility in Cameron County, Texas, ahead of Elon Musk’s big announcement on Sept. 28, 2019.

(Image credit: SpaceX/Twitter)

Starship in Texas

SpaceX's newly assembled Starship Mk1 prototype stands tall at the company’s launch facility in Cameron County, Texas.

Related: SpaceX Finishes Assembling New Starship Prototype

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An aerial view of SpaceX's Starship Mk1 prototype, seen during Elon Musk's Starship update in South Texas on Sept. 28, 2019.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship Gathering

An aerial view of SpaceX's Starship Mk1 prototype, seen during Elon Musk's Starship update in South Texas on Sept. 28, 2019. 

Full Story: Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX's New Starship Plans for Private Trips to the Moon, Mars and Beyond

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The bottom half of SpaceX's Starship Mk 1 prototype is seen at the company's South Texas facilities in this photo posted on Twitter by Elon Musk on Sept. 22, 2019.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

Starship Under the Stars

The bottom half of SpaceX's Starship Mk 1 prototype is seen at the company's South Texas facilities in this photo posted on Twitter by Elon Musk on Sept. 22, 2019.

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A photo tweeted by SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk on Sept. 22, 2019 shows technicians installing stability-controlling rear fins on Starship Mk1.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

Installing the Fins

A photo tweeted by Elon Musk on Sept. 22, 2019 shows technicians installing stability-controlling rear fins on Starship Mk1. 

Full Story: SpaceX's Next Starship Prototype Nearly Finished, Elon Musk Says (Photos)

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SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted this photo of the bottom half of the Starship Mk1 prototype being lifted above a transporter on Sept. 25, 2019.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

Starship's Bottom Half

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted this photo of the bottom half of the Starship Mk1 prototype being lifted above a transporter on Sept. 25, 2019.

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SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted this photo of the Starship Mk1 prototype on a transporter on Sept. 25, 2019.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

Starship on a Roll

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted this photo of the Starship Mk1 prototype on a transporter on Sept. 25, 2019.

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SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk posted this photo of the company's next Starship prototype — presumably the Starship Mk1, which is being built in Texas — on Twitter on Sept. 17, 2019.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

SpaceX's South Texas Facility

Elon Musk tweeted this photo of the company's Starship Mk1 prototype at its South Texas facility on Sept. 17, 2019.

Full Story: SpaceX's Next Starship Prototype Taking Shape (Photos)

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The bottom half of SpaceX's Starship Mk 1 prototype is seen at the company's South Texas facilities in this photo posted on Twitter by Elon Musk on Sept. 22, 2019.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

Starship Under Construction

The bottom half of SpaceX's Starship Mk 1 prototype is seen at the company's South Texas facilities in this photo posted on Twitter by Elon Musk on Sept. 22, 2019.

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Artist's illustration of the "hopper" test-flight version of SpaceX's Starship vehicle, shared via Twitter by company founder and CEO Elon Musk on Jan. 5, 2019.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship "Hopper" Prototype: Artist's Rendering

An artist's illustration of the "hopper" test-flight version of SpaceX's Starship vehicle, shared via Twitter by company founder and CEO Elon Musk on Jan. 5, 2019.

Related: Meet SpaceX's Starship Hopper

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The test-flight version of SpaceX's Starship "Hopper" vehicle stands completed at the company's Texas test site. Elon Musk posted this photo on Twitter on Jan. 10, 2019.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship "Hopper" Prototype: The Real Thing

The test-flight version of SpaceX's Starship "Hopper" vehicle stands completed at the company's Texas test site. Elon Musk posted this photo on Twitter on Jan. 10, 2019.

Full Story: SpaceX Finishes Building 'Starship' Hopper Prototype (Photo)

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The two sections of SpaceX's Starship "hopper" test vehicle as seen in December 2018.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX)

Hopper Under Construction

Portions of SpaceX's first "hopper" test article for its Starship vehicle being assembled at the company's South Texas launch site, seen here in a photo tweeted by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Dec. 24, 2018.

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SpaceX’s founder and chief executive Elon Musk shared black-and-white images on Sept. 26, 2019, showing off the three Raptor engines on the Starship prototype.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

The Raptor Engines

SpaceX’s founder and chief executive Elon Musk shared black-and-white images on Sept. 26, 2019, showing off the three Raptor engines on the Starship prototype. 

Related: Elon Musk Just Dropped More Tantalizing Details About SpaceX's Starship Prototype

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SpaceX’s founder and chief executive Elon Musk shared black-and-white images on Sept. 26, 2019, showing off the three Raptor engines on the Starship prototype.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

The Raptor Engines

SpaceX’s founder and chief executive Elon Musk shared black-and-white images on Sept. 26, 2019, showing off the three Raptor engines on the Starship prototype. 

Related: Elon Musk Just Dropped More Tantalizing Details About SpaceX's Starship Prototype

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SpaceX’s founder and chief executive Elon Musk shared black-and-white images on Sept. 26, 2019, showing off the three Raptor engines on the Starship prototype.

(Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter)

The Raptor Engines

SpaceX’s founder and chief executive Elon Musk shared black-and-white images on Sept. 26, 2019, showing off the three Raptor engines on the Starship prototype. 

Related: Elon Musk Just Dropped More Tantalizing Details About SpaceX's Starship Prototype

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The first commercial Starship/Super Heavy mission will likely carry a telecommunications satellite.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship and Super Heavy Ascent

Before it was Starship, it was called the BFR, or "Big Falcon Rocket." SpaceX's 2018 BFR design showcased a sleek, sci-fi looking spaceship and its 1st stage booster as shown in this image unveiled by Elon Musk on Sept. 17, 2018.

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Artist's illustration of SpaceX's BFR spaceship cruising around the moon.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

At the Moon

On Sept. 13, 2018, SpaceX announced it had signed the 1st private passenger for a moon trip on BFR. This image released with that announcement offered the first glimpse of BFR's design changes since the 2017 ITS version (which fill much of this gallery). 

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An artist's illustration of SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket launching into space. SpaceX will launch Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa on the first private passenger flight around the moon, possibly in 2023.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Stage Separation

An artist's illustration of SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket launching into space. SpaceX will launch Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa on the first private passenger flight around the moon, possibly in 2023.

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The flight plan for the #dearMoon mission, which will use a SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy rocket to launch a group of artists on a mission to fly around the moon.

(Image credit: SpaceX/#dearMoon)

#dearMoon Flight Plan

The flight plan for the #dearMoon mission, which will use a SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy rocket to launch a group of artists on a mission to fly around the moon.

Related: How SpaceX's 1st Passenger Flight Around the Moon with Yusaku Maezawa Will Work

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (at left) introduced Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa as the first private passenger on SpaceX's BFR mission to the moon at a press conference held Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Maezawa intends to select six to eight artists to fly with him on the lunar trip, which is targeted for launch in 2023.

(Image credit: collectSPACE.com)

Elon Musk and Yusaku Maezawa

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who has booked SpaceX's first private flight around the moon, meet the press during the mission's unveiling at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California on Sept. 17, 2018.

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Artist's illustration of SpaceX BFR spaceships on the surface of Mars.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship on Mars

An artist's illustration of SpaceX "BFR" spaceships on the surface of Mars.

Related: How SpaceX's Starship Will Help Establish a Mars Base

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SpaceX aims to launch its first Mars cargo missions in 2022 and the first crews in 2024. If all goes according to plan, these first flights will plant the seeds of a permanent, sustainable city on the Red Planet.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX's Vision for a Mars City

SpaceX aims to launch its first Mars cargo missions in 2022 and the first crews in 2024. If all goes according to plan, these first flights will plant the seeds of a permanent, sustainable city on the Red Planet.

Related: How Elon Musk Plans to Build a Million-Person Martian City

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This SpaceX infographic shows how the company aims to use its Starship interstellar spacecraft to transport humans and cargo to and from the Red Planet.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Starship for Mars

This SpaceX infographic shows how the company aims to use its Starship interstellar spacecraft to transport humans and cargo to and from the Red Planet. 

Full Story: How SpaceX's Starship Will Help Establish a Mars Base

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The BFR architecture isn’t Mars-specific; the system could help establish a base on the moon, Musk said.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX on the Moon

The Starship architecture isn’t Mars-specific; the system could help establish a base on the moon, Musk said.

Related: Elon Musk Calls for Moon Base

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The BFR spaceship could make it from Earth orbit to the lunar surface and back again without needing to refuel, Musk said.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

From Earth to the Moon

Starship could make it from Earth orbit to the lunar surface and back again without needing to refuel, Musk said.

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The BFR system will be able to launch very large satellites, Musk said.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Deploying a Satellite

The Starship system will also be able to launch very large satellites, according to Elon Musk. The company is targeting 2021 for its first commercial launch.

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Artist’s illustration of the BFR spaceship docked at the International Space Station.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

BFR Spaceship at the ISS

An artist's illustration of the BFR spaceship docked at the International Space Station.

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SpaceX’s envisioned BFR will be bigger and far more powerful than the company’s other rockets.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

A Big Rocket

SpaceX's envisioned BFR is much bigger and far more powerful than the company’s other rockets.

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The BFR iteration was designed to be 387 feet (118 meters) tall, with the ability to carry payloads up to 100 metric tons all the way to the surface of Mars.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Big BFR

The BFR iteration was designed to be 387 feet (118 meters) tall, with the ability to carry payloads up to 100 metric tons all the way to the surface of Mars.

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

A Spacious Spaceship

The BFR's design was more spacious inside, fitting more than 35,000 cubic feet (1,000 cubic meters) of pressurized space inside. The payload section measured 180 feet (55 meters) long. That's more than 10 times the size of the space shuttle's living quarters.

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

Steering the BFR

The 2018 BFR design had two actuated forward fins and three in the rear. (Elon Musk also referred to these features as "wings" or "fins.")

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(Image credit: SpaceX)

Landing the BFR

A screenshot of a landing simulation showing how the BFR will land. The rocket is designed to be able to land anywhere in the solar system, Elon Musk said when he unveiled the new design.

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The BFR will be capable of lofting 150 tons of payload to low Earth orbit, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

BFR from the Side

The BFR would be capable of lofting 150 tons of payload to low Earth orbit, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said.

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The BFR spaceship will feature 40 cabins, each of which will likely house two to three people on a typical Mars trip.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

BFR Spaceship: Top View

The BFR spaceship's design features 40 cabins, each of which will likely house two to three people on a typical Mars trip.

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 The BFR spaceship’s six Raptor engines will allow it to reach Mars after a journey of three to six months.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

BFR Spaceship: Rear View

The BFR spaceship's six Raptor engines will allow it to reach Mars after a journey of three to six months.

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A giant SpaceX rocket launches from a floating platform near New York City carrying passengers bound for Shanghai in this still from a video animation depicting the potential for point-to-point travel on Earth with the massive spaceship.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Point-to-Point Travel on Earth

A giant SpaceX rocket launches from a floating platform near New York City carrying passengers bound for Shanghai in this still from a video animation depicting the potential for point-to-point travel on Earth with the massive spaceship.

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