ELON Musk has revealed that a SpaceX rocket designed to take humans to Mars could take to the skies in the coming days.
In a tweet on Sunday, the billionaire said the latest Starship prototype has a "good chance" of flying this week.
The stainless steel tower, dubbed SN10, is currently undergoing tests at a SpaceX facility in southern Texas.
The company hopes to send a fully function Starship to space for the first time later this year.
Conditions in Texas has improved after the Lone Star State was hit by a deadly winter storm last week, forcing SpaceX to delay its operations.
Temperatures at the Starship base near the town of Boca Chica have now returned to normal, allowing work to continue.
Expectations for the first flight of SN10 are high after its predecessor, SN9, met a fiery end earlier this month.
The prototype rocket shot six miles into the air during a test flight before plummeting back towards the ground and exploding on impact.
Another rocket, SN8, met a similar violent end following a flight in December.
The blasts were so violent that they sparked an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration into SpaceX's safety precautions.
An FAA spokesperson told CNET that the agency had closed the investigation, "clearing the way for the SN10 test flight".
They added that the California company required FAA approval of license updates.
According to pictures snapped by onlookers over the weekend, SpaceX recently installed aerodynamic flaps to SN10.
They will help to steer the spacecraft as it launches to a height of up to several miles above sea level.
Starship is in the early stages of development, and trial "launches" so far have largely taken the form of short hops of a few hundred feet.
These tests involve a single trash can-shaped engine but the final spacecraft will look a lot more like a traditional rocket, sporting a cone-shaped nose.
That all changed on December 8 when SN8 performed its first full flight, soaring 7.8 miles into the air before exploding the moment it hit the ground.
Despite the rocket's fiery demise, billionaire SpaceX boss Elon Musk – recently crowned the world's richest man – hailed the launch as a success.
The prototype managed to reach its target height and collected plenty of useful data, the 49-year-old said.
Writing on Twitter before the launch, Musk had warned viewers that there was only a one-in-three chance the rocket would make it back in one piece.
"Lot of things need to go right," he said. "But that’s why we have SN9 & SN10."
Billionaire Musk, who is also CEO of Tesla, hopes to send a million people to Mars in his lifetime using a 1,000-strong fleet of the powerful rockets.
What is SpaceX?
Here’s what you need to know…
SpaceX is a cash-flushed rocket company that wants to take man to Mars.
It was set up by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX's first aim was to build rockets that can autonomously land back on Earth for refurbishment and re-use.
The technology makes launching and operating space flights more efficient, and therefore cheaper.
SpaceX currently uses its reusable Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets to fly cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for Nasa.
It also carries satellites and other space tech into orbit for various government agencies and multinational companies.
The company took astronauts to the ISS for the first time in 2020.
Other future missions involve carrying tourists to the ISS and astronauts to the Moon and Mars.
Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonise Mars to save itself from extinction.
He plans to get a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet by 2027.
The finished product will stand 165ft (50 metres) tall and boast six of SpaceX's powerful Raptor engines.
According to SpaceX, the contraption will hit speeds of 15,000mph (25,000kph), making it the world's most powerful spacecraft.
In a series of tweets earlier this year, Musk outlined how his Starlink plans would open up space travel to anyone, regardless of their income.
"Needs to be such that anyone can go if they want, with loans available for those who don't have money," he wrote.
Musk's plan involves building an expansive fleet of Starship vehicles, which comprise a huge rocket topped by a bullet-shaped spacecraft.
SpaceX says reusable rockets that can land and take off again make space travel more cost effective, accessible and sustainable.
However, the team has a long way to go before they can conduct Starship's first manned flight.
Musk is targeting a Mars cargo missions by 2022 and a manned flight to the Red Planet by 2024.
In other news, SpaceX completed its second successful Starship booster test flight in September.
Musk wants to send humans to Mars as early as 2024 aboard one of the huge rockets.
And, Nasa set a hillside on fire during a recent test of the "most powerful rocket ever built".
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