SpaceX's new Starship video animation is Tron meets Blade Runner in space

A stunning SpaceX animation released Thursday (Feb. 10) shows the Starship system on a future voyage to Mars.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk released the five-minute video during the program's first major update since 2019. He spoke of the fully stacked Starship ready for an orbital trip in (he expects) later 2022 and his hopes to reduce Mars launch costs through frequent liftoffs of Starship and its accompanying Super Heavy rocket.

Starship, Musk said in the livestreamed address, "is capable of getting getting a million tons to the surface of Mars, and creating a self sustaining city. I think we should try to do that as soon as we can."

The new video (opens in new tab) shows what such a voyage could look like, with dramatic lighting and musical effects that feel very similar to the futuristic visions that the franchises "Blade Runner" and "Tron" have showed moviegoers over the decades.

Related: SpaceX's Starship will reach orbit this year on road to Mars

Accompanied by 1980s-sounding synthesizers, the video portrays a future Starship sitting on the launch pad during twilight. Panning up the ship, the camera shows steam coming off the system and fading into the surrounding area. 

As the sun rises, the spacecraft system lifts off and adds its smoke to the misty surroundings. We see Starship reach orbit, then flying over Earth while the sunlight glints off the ocean below. Then the spacecraft makes its way to Mars, with our planet getting smaller and smaller in the background and the Red Planet getting bigger and bigger.

The last few seconds of the video show a possible vision for a Mars base. Based on the imagery, it appears Musk would like to include a greenhouse, along with multiple Starship launch and landing pads and surface vehicles, to help potential settlers do science and exploration.

"The sales pitch for going to Mars is that it's going to be cramped, dangerous, difficult, very hard work. You might die," Musk said in his speech. "That's the sales pitch. I hope you like it."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace