SpaceX Sends Retired Starship to Texas Airport

by Josh Lanier

It didn’t take much for the Brownsville South Padre International Airport to land one of SpaceX’s Starship prototypes. They just had to ask.

Thousands of tourists flock to SpaceX’s “Starbase,” its headquarters in Boca Chica, Texas, just outside of Brownsville each year. Most come to get a glimpse of one of the many rocket launches there. Or maybe they’ll catch a glimpse of one of the company’s new prototypes. Now, they won’t need a set of binoculars to see one.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he’ll donate one of the Starship prototypes to the Brownsville airport where visitors can get an up-close look at an early iteration of the rocket that Musk believes will get us to Mars. And it all happened because of a tweet.

South Padre Island, a town not far from Starbase, tweeted to Musk yesterday to say they wanted to build a “public rocket garden” for SpaceX fans. They’d like one of the old Starship prototypes though.

Musk has plenty of those lying around. So, he suggested putting one near the Brownsville airport so it could serve both communities. And just like that, they had a rocket garden. SpaceX will just need to deliver the rocket, which could be a logistical nightmare. The Starship is 160-feet tall.

Elon Musk Believes Starship Will Orbit the Earth ‘This Year’

In his first update on the project in two years, Elon Musk says the SpaceX Starship will orbit the planet within the year. It’s a bold claim considering the company has several problems it needs to solve first, but Musk is “highly confident” they’ll make it happen. The Starship had its first launch and successful landing nine months ago. The previous four exploded during landing.

“It will work,” he said at a presentation at Starbase earlier this month. “There might be a few bumps along the way, but it will work.”

The Starship is reusable and refuelable. That means it can be used multiple times to deliver millions of tons of cargo. We will need a spacecraft like that for our more ambitious space projects, Politico pointed out.

“It is the kind of thing we used to talk about as ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could do these kinds of things?’” said Scott Altman, a former astronaut.

If SpaceX can continue to improve on Starship, it will likely become the space vehicle of choice for all future missions.

“Once the new system’s reliability is demonstrated with a large number of flights, which could happen in a matter of months, it will obsolesce all existing launch systems,” said Rand Simberg, an aerospace engineer. “If (NASA’s Space Launch System) is not going to fly more than once every couple of years, it’s just not going to be a significant player in the future in space, particularly when Starship is flown.”