SpaceX head Elon Musk and his team have been racing to ready the Starship rocket’s new giant dome after the craft exploded during last month’s cryogenic pressure test. The controversial South African billionaire tweeted pictures and videos showing the assembly of the massive structure.
Musk described the dome as the most difficult part of the craft to build.
The SpaceX founder also revealed how he worked all night with SpaceX engineers in Boca Chica, Texas in a bid to get dome production ready for Starship’s Mk3 prototype.
The prototype is hoped to one day complete a manned mission to Mars.
Musk also revealed over the weekend how the SpaceX Starship’s “first flight is hopefully two to three months away”.
The SpaceX CEO shared several videos revealing the progress of Starship’s huge dome.
The clips show three huge structures which will be combined to make a complete top for the Starship rocket.
He tweeted: “Was up all night with SpaceX team working on Starship tank dome production (most difficult part of primary structure). Dawn arrives.”
The video shows the sun rising on his team on the Texas site, as they work on the dome.
Videos of the explosion shared on social media depicted plumes of smoke spewing from the top of the 165ft (50m) tall spacecraft.
According to onlooker LabPadre, who shared a video on YouTube, the top shot up almost 500ft (150m) in the air as cryofluid engulfed the complex.
Fortunately there were no injuries during the event.
Following the explosion, Musk revealed on Twitter how SpaceX would concentrate on Mk3.
This newer prototype of the Starship spacecraft is designed for orbit, which is where the dome will find its new home.
Musk wrote in response to a question on Twitter: “Absolutely, but to move to Mk3 design.
“This had some value as a manufacturing pathfinder, but flight design is quite different.”.
A SpaceX spokesperson added: “The decision had already been made to not fly this test article and the team is focused on the Mk3 builds, which are designed for orbit.”
Musk believes Starship will be capable of carrying about 100 passengers first to the Moon, then Mars and eventually into space.
SpaceX hopes its style of reusable rocket will mark a major breakthrough in aerospace technology that will eventually make space exploration cheaper and more sustainable.
The SpaceX head recently revealed Starship will only use $900,000 (£682,000) worth of propellant to launch, compared to the $1.3 million (£985,000) spent on rocket fuel by US-based space agency NASA.
This suggests SpaceX needs only to spend $2 million (£1,500,000) per mission, as opposed to the $450 million (£341,000,000) it spends every time it launches a rocket.
Musk hopes Starship could ultimately help humans reach Mars for the first time and has set an ambitious timeline for when the experimental SpaceX craft could do so.
He has claimed the first manned Mars mission for the rocket and 100-passenger Starship could come as early as the mid-2020s if development and testing go to schedule.
And he has also stated how additional missions may even include tourist trips to the Moon by 2024.