SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk says the first short test flights of the company's massive rocket Starship are "hopefully" this week.
"First hops will lift off, but only barely," Musk said on Twitter.
Residents near the SpaceX facility in Brownsville, Texas, received warning notices from local officials on Friday. The notice said "SpaceX is planning to conduct testing as soon as the week of March 18," during which "SpaceX will establish a safety zone perimeter in coordination with local law enforcement."
In a statement to the Brownsville Herald, SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson said "SpaceX will conduct checkouts of the newly installed ground systems and perform a short static fire test in the days ahead."
"Although the prototype is designed to perform suborbital flights, or hops, powered by the SpaceX Raptor engine, the vehicle will be tethered during initial testing and hops will not be visible from offsite," Gleeson said.
SpaceX is in the early stages of developing the Starship rocket. Musk said that first "really short" flights will use one of the company's powerful Raptor engines. Starship, with an enormous booster called "Super Heavy," is being built to transport up to 100 people to the moon, Mars and more. Designed to be a fully reusable launch system, the "hopper" version of Starship is key to proving the design and mechanics of a rocket that will unlock Musk's vision of making spaceflight more like air travel.