You won't have to rely on spy shots to get a glimpse of SpaceX's orbital Starship prototype while it's under construction -- they're coming straight from the company's founder. Elon Musk has posted a pair of photos showing progress on the more ambitious spacecraft. The look won't startle anyone -- surprise, it's a much taller expansion of the Starhopper design. It does provide a good sense of scale, though, and it's a reminder that the finished Starship is meant to handle much more than putting satellites into service.
The first test flights of this orbital vessel could start as soon as October, with the initial experiment reaching about 63,000 feet. Subsequent tests will up the velocity and, eventually, reach orbit. Commercial flights aren't expected to start until 2021, but Starship is poised to be the backbone of SpaceX's business soon after, handling everything from routine orbital insertions to eventual trips to Mars. It needs to be doubly sure the technology works properly when the company's very future depends on it.