The Starship SN5 prototype performed a 150-meter “hop” at a SpaceX facility in South Texas, during which it took off from one launchpad and performed a controlled landing on a separate launchpad.
It is a major milestone for the private space firm and comes just days after safely returning two astronauts from the International Space Station aboard its Crew Dragon capsule.
“Mars is looking real,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted following the successful Starship test. “Progress is accelerating.”
Future versions of the Starship spacecraft could hold up to 100 people, with the most optimistic predictions for launch suggesting missions could commence as early as 2024.
Earlier this year, Musk revealed that SpaceX is building “floating, superheavy-class spaceports” for Starship rockets traveling between Earth, the moon and Mars.
The spacecraft facilities will also be used to launch passengers traveling at hypersonic speeds around Earth.
Read more: Independent