SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said the first proper flight test of the Mars-bound spacecraft Starship will take place “real soon”, hinting it could take place as early as Wednesday.
The test only has a one in three chance of actually working but Mr Musk said a live stream of the event will be broadcast online, “warts and all”.
The exact time and date of the test is yet to be announced, though SpaceX has requested road closures in the area surrounding its Boca Chica facility in Texas on Wednesday, 2 December, between 8am and 5pm local time (2pm-11pm GMT).
Additional road closures are scheduled for 3 and 4 December at the same time.
“It will be real soon,” Mr Musk tweeted on Monday. On Sunday, he said: “Flight no earlier than Wednesday.”
Mr Musk has made Starship’s development SpaceX’s top priority, ploughing the company’s resources and personal into its Texas facility in an effort to accelerate his goal of making humanity a multi-planetary species.
Earlier this year, the billionaire entrepreneur said he hoped to travel to Mars in his lifetime aboard a Starship craft, though feared the current timeline was too slow.
“The thing that concerns me most right now is that unless we improve our rate of innovation dramatically, there is no chance of a base on the moon or a city on Mars,” he said at the Satelite2020 conference in March.
“We’ve got to improve our rate of innovation or, based on past trends, I am definitely going to be dead before Mars.”
SpaceX plans to mass produce Starship spacecraft, with each one capable of ferrying up to 100 people around the Solar System.
The first cargo mission to Mars using a Starship craft could take place as early as 2022, according to previous claims by the SpaceX boss, while crewed missions could begin in 2024.
Shorter-haul commercial flights with paying passengers aboard Starship are scheduled for 2023, starting with a trip around the moon.
Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa has already paid a “significant deposit” to SpaceX to be the first commercial passenger. He plans to invite “six to eight artists from around the world” to join him.
If this week’s test proves successful, the next major milestone for Starship’s development will be an orbital flight test.
This is expected to take place at some point in 2021.