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It’s no surprise that Elon Musk says some pretty ‘out there’ things, many of which become reality. The Cybertruck can crab walk? Check. Tesla’s making robots? Check. Now Elon Musk has tweeted that “SpaceX Will Try to Catch Largest Ever Flying Object With Robot Chopsticks.” What does that even mean, and will this come to fruition, or is it just a wild tweet?

Two starships ready for flight tests against a setting sun.
Starships ready for flight tests | SpaceX

Elon Musk is serious about SpaceX and the robot chopsticks

Later on in 2021, SpaceX will be testing its spacecraft the Starship. The Starship is headed for Mars. It’s set to be sent into space via a launching tower. The tower designed to launch spacecraft into orbit has been dubbed “Mechazilla” by Musk. 

The SpaceX crew just installed the first “arm” onto the tower, or the first of the three “robot chopsticks.” Musk’s tweet about the robot chopsticks included a video from the Karate Kid showing Daniel and Mr. Miyagi using chopsticks to catch flies, to give you an idea of how Musk sees this happening. 

And those robot chopsticks Musk was talking about? Those reference the mechanical arms that are attached to the SpaceX tower. 

Robot chopsticks could let SpaceX launch multiple spacecraft into space

Yahoo! Finance says that the SpaceX tower arms could allow SpaceX to send more than one spacecraft into orbit each day. That would be quite impressive, given the amount of time it currently takes to send just one spacecraft into space. Yet it’s far from becoming a reality. Before the SpaceX robot chopsticks can be used in full effect, they have to be tested. 

As Musk tends to do once he’s posted on Twitter, he engaged with some followers asking follow up questions. Additionally, Musk continued to share information about his plan, including discussing the types of boosters they’d use and the booster attributes which would make it successful. A booster is a sort of engine or rocket that helps launch the spacecraft into space. SpaceX is working on launching Booster 4, though a date hasn’t been set yet.

SpaceX recently built the tallest rocket ever

On August 6, 2021, SpaceX put the Starship on top of the Super Heavy booster, making it 400 feet tall. This is the tallest rocket ever. It took an enormous crane to hoist the Starship on top of the booster at SpaceX’s Boca Chica site in Texas. 

The Starship is part of a reusable system designed to carry people and things to Mars. Musk has previously said that he wants to send a million people to Mars by 2050. Obviously that’s no easy feat, and he has said it would take three flights a day and roughly 1,000 flights each year. He’s even partnered with NASA to make a trip to Mars by 2024. 

Although Elon Musk has certainly made some wild claims in the past, it is entirely possible that this one will bear fruit. SpaceX’s collaboration with NASA certainly gives them credibility. And Musk’s determination to send one million people into space by 2050 will undoubtedly motivate him to work hard to accomplish that task. On the other hand, whether you’d be willing to be one of those 1,000 passengers a day may be a different story.


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