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SpaceX shows off its 'Gateway to Mars' for Starship launches in video

SpaceX is hoping to launch its first orbital Starship test flight in the next few months from its Starbase facility in Texas and a new video captures the company's work so far on the massive rocket.

The 90-second montage, which SpaceX showed off on Twitter,  offers views of the company's massive Starship spacecraft being wheeled to the launch pad, taking off, performing complex flips and then landing safely on the ground. You also catch a glimpse of Earth from up high.

"Gateway to Mars," SpaceX wrote in its Twitter post sharing the video on Saturday (Oct. 23). A day earlier, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk shared a stunning image of its Starship and Super Heavy booster with the nearly full moon behind them at its Starbase site near Boca Chica in southern Texas. "Starbase under construction," Musk wrote.

Video: Watch every SpaceX Starship test explosion in this supercut

The spectacular shots start around the 30-second mark, when you can see steam billowing from Starship as it wobbles in mid-air, maneuvers carefully and gently touches down on the ground. You can spot more Starship aerial flips shortly before the one-minute mark.

The company didn't label which Starship flights were featured; Starship's latest flight effort was in May, when the SN15 prototype launched and made a soft landing (a fire at the spacecraft base was swiftly extinguished.) SpaceX billionaire founder Elon Musk says the current generation of Starship prototypes will help inform future Mars settlement efforts, although there still are hurdles to overcome.

Photos: SpaceX lifts huge Super Heavy rocket onto launch stand

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared this view of the company's Starbase facility for Starship and Super Heavy launches near Boca Chica village in southern Texas on Oct. 22, 2021. (Image credit: SpaceX/Elon Musk via Twitter)

Last week, the current prototype (SN20) roared to life during a standard static fire test. SpaceX is waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to give its ruling concerning whether the program can proceed with an orbital flight. The public recently gave mixed reviews during consultations concerning Starship's environmental impact, particularly at its home base near Boca Chica.

Starship is a heavy-lift transportation system that SpaceX is developing to take people and cargo to the moon, Mars and other deep-space destinations. The system was selected in April to assist NASA with its Artemis moon-landing program, although the contract has been mired in controversy and is now on pause during a lawsuit.

Last month, Musk heaped scorn upon Blue Origin and Amazon billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, saying that Bezos should work harder at sending his own hardware into orbit (a slight against the New Shepard system of Blue Origin, which so far has sent humans on two suborbital flights.) "You cannot sue your way to the moon, OK?" Musk said in September. "No matter how good your lawyers are."

While Starship is still under development, it's already broken at least one record. In August, when the spacecraft was stacked on top of its Super Heavy rocket for the first time, the stacked spacecraft was the tallest in the world at 395 feet (120 meters) tall.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.