Elon Musk's Starship rocket that will one day take man to Mars completes first test flight

A SPACEX rocket that will one day take astronauts to Mars has completed a 500ft test flight from a launchpad in Texas.

Video posted to Twitter shows a prototype Starship spacecraft blasting into the air under a "Raptor" engine before descending gently back to Earth.

"Starship takes fight," the official SpaceX Twitter account wrote on Wednesday.

SpaceX, owned by billionaire Tesla boss Elon Musk, has said it wants to use Starship to take astronauts to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Musk, 49, previously said on Twitter that he hopes to send a million people to Mars in his lifetime using a 1,000-strong fleet of the powerful rockets.

"Mars is looking real," Musk tweeted after Wednesday's flight.

Starship's production complex is based near the small town of Boca Chica, Texas.

The finished product will stand 290ft (120 metres) tall and boast three of the powerful Raptor engines tested on Wednesday.

The prototype craft, dubbed SN5, is effectively a giant fuel tank with a single engine strapped to the bottom.

It's Starship's sixth full-scale prototype, though the final spacecraft will look a lot more like a traditional rocket, sporting a cone-shaped nose.

SpaceX is still in the early stages of Starship's development, but the recent test marks a significant milestone for the company.

Engineers have been working on Starship for years.

The machine promises to be the world's most powerful rocket if SpaceX ever gets it off the ground.

According to SpaceX, the contraption will hit speeds of 15,000mph (25,000kph).

In a series of tweets earlier this year, Musk outlined how his Starlink plans would open up space travel to anyone, regardless of their income.

"Needs to be such that anyone can go if they want, with loans available for those who don't have money," he wrote.

Musk's plan involves building an expansive fleet of Starship vehicles, which comprise a huge rocket topped by a bullet-shaped spacecraft.

He recently hired more than 250 extra SpaceX employees in two days to help the company reach this lofty goal.

What is SpaceX?

Here's what you need to know…

SpaceX is a cash-flushed rocket company that wants to take man to Mars.

It was set up by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.

SpaceX's first aim was to build rockets that could autonomously land back on Earth and be re-used.

Musk hoped the technology would make flying and operating space flights far cheaper.

SpaceX currently uses its reusable rockets to fly cargo to the International Space Station for Nasa.

It also carries satellites and other space tech into orbit for various international governments and companies.

The company will take astronauts up to the ISS for the first time in 2020.

Other future missions involve carrying tourists and astronauts to the Moon.

Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonise Mars to save itself from extinction.

He plans to get a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s.

According to Musk, SpaceX aims to build 1,000 Starships at its facility in South Texas over a 10-year period.

That's 100 rockets per year – a pretty tall feat considering the firm hasn't built a single functioning Starship yet.

Eventually, the Tesla boss added, the goal would be to launch 1,000 Starship flights to Mars every year – an average of three per day.

Each trip would see 100 passengers make their way to the Red Planet to become citizens of a Mars megacity.

Musk was a little vague on what, exactly, colonists would do once they got there. "There will be a lot of jobs on Mars!" he tweeted.

The company, based in Hawthorne, California, is currently racing through various safety and engine tests to get the rocket ready for a full test launch.

Based on Musk's projections, it would take a fleet of 1,000 Starships around nine years to carry a million people to Mars.

That's assuming the company really does manage to send up 300 people a day, of course.

When you add the ten years required to build the fleet, the scheme needs to begin within the next decade to have any chance of meeting Musk's 2050 target.

He didn't specify what each rocket would need to carry, but a trunk-full of food, water, fuel and life support systems is a given.

The planned tests come weeks after SpaceX launched its first manned mission to orbit as part of a lucrative partnership with Nasa.

US astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley blasted to the International Space Station from a launchpad in Florida aboard a SpaceX Dragon craft.

Behnken and Hurley returned to Earth aboard the spacecraft over the weekend.

In other news, Elon Musk announced last month that SpaceX's mission to get man on Mars is now the company's "top priority".

Nasa has revealed the design of a moon lander that could be taking astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024.

The space agency also recently released an unusual image of the 'death explosion' of a massive star that looks just like a bat.

Do you Elon Musk will pull off his bonkers plot? Let us know in the comments!

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