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Speaking in a gust of wind at SpaceX's Launch Facility in Cameron County, Texas, on Saturday night, CEO Elon Musk spoke about the latest innovation from the space giant, SpaceX, Starship.
Musk spoke in front of a 50-meter, 200-ton Starship prototype, calling it "the most inspiring thing I've ever seen."
He described the vehicle's unique design features and outlined plans for a rapid production fleet of Starship. His hope, said Musk, is "to reach orbit in less than six months."
SpaceX has been working to achieve the goal of making space travel cheaper and more affordable for future space travelers since its founding in 2002.
Starship is the company's next stream: a large vehicle that can theoretically carry people in space, land safely on earth and be fit to turn and fly again. Being able to return to space multiple times with a "multiple-use orbital rocket," explained Musk, is key to the company's plans.
"The critical breakthrough we need to become a space-faring civilization is to make space travel as plane travel. With air travel, when you fly an airplane, you fly it many times," he said.
Starship serves as a large long-spacecraft capable of carrying passengers or cargo to orbit, planetary destinations and between destinations on Earth pic.twitter.com/NoNoOjBW50
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 29, 2019
Musk noted that September 28 was the 11th anniversary of the giant space shuttle giant's first victory when it first reached orbit with one of its rockets – the Falcon 1. The company achieved another major step in March 2017, when it successfully restarts its Falcon 9 rocket, followed by this launch The rocket was previously launched and redeployed in 2016.
The goal now, Musk said, is to get the larger Starship, a ship that could carry people to accomplish the same feat.
"This thing will take off, it will fly up to about 65,000 feet, it's about 20 kilometers, and it will come back and land. In about a month or two, "he said. "It's really going to be epic to see this thing come out and come back."
Musk said the company was working aggressively to build the next iterations of the Starship prototype over the next five to six months.
Loren Elliott / Getty Images
"The speed at which we will build ships will be pretty, pretty crazy by space standards," he said.
To do this, he said, the company increased the production of rocket engines, reaching the production target of building a new engine per day by early next year. If everything goes according to plan, he said, "we could possibly see people flying next year."
Musk made a point of gratitude to one of his investors, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who announced last year that he had booked a trip as a private passenger with SpaceX for a trip to the moon.
NASA's response to Saturday's announcement was to draw attention to another less dramatic target of SpaceX. The company has an ongoing partnership with NASA on the Commercial Crew Project, an enterprise designed to develop the safe and affordable transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein tweeted Friday about Starship's message that he would like to see "the same level of enthusiasm for U.S. taxpayer investment", noting that the sales team project is years behind schedule.  Musk's Saturday speech was indeed filled with enthusiasm for space travel. He shared his ultimate goal of creating a "self-sustaining city of Mars." He said that while there are many problems on Earth that need to be resolved, "we also need things that excite us in order to be alive and sparked for the future."
"To become a civilization in outer space, to be there among the stars, is one of the things that makes me happy to be alive," Musk said.