Today, as an almost "oh, by the way", we learned that SpaceX has prototyped and tested a vital piece of the hardware that hasn't existed until the last week or so. They prototyped the elevator that will take the astronauts from the 60 meter tall Starship down to the lunar surface. The elevator looks like this.
The story was tweeted by Eric Ralph, the SpaceX correspondent for Teslarati, and published details there as well. He adds an interesting point from the standpoint of watching them much of the day.
On a separate note, it’s unclear when or where SpaceX built and tested the first Starship elevator. The photo NASA’s Mark Kirasich provider appears to show an elevator prototype situated inside a steel Starship ring with the sky visible, but nothing like that setup has been spotted at SpaceX’s Boca Chica Starship factory or former Cocoa Beach production facilities. That leaves its Hawthorne, California factory or, perhaps, a mysterious “Roberts Road” facility on Kennedy Space Center (KSC) land. Either way, it certainly appears that SpaceX has yet to show all its cards and is doing everything it can to convince NASA that Starship is worth additional HLS contracts.The May '20 post I linked to at the start of this article says that this Human Landing System contract was for a short period, ten months, which means it ends in March. March is next Monday. NASA says they hope to further select, probably two of the three, in the next few weeks but maybe as far out as April. But saying "next few weeks" includes the start of April.
While Blue Origin and Dynetics have delivered some neat mockups of their landing approach, SpaceX has more flying hardware than anyone. In the ten months since their contract award, SpaceX has built no less than eight full-scale Starship prototypes, performed about two dozen wet dress rehearsals and static fires with those prototypes, and performed two powered, 150m hops and two high-altitude test flights. Add this elevator prototype and it sure seems like the most hardware by far.
While on the topic of SpaceX Starships, SN10 had a static firing yesterday but it apparently wasn't in full compliance with the goals as at least one of the three Raptor engines was installed today. They're approved for a road closure tomorrow, and flight TFRs cover the 25th to the 27th. I expect they'll try to static fire again tomorrow to test the replacement engine, and it remains possible they could repeat the SN8 and 9 test flight before Monday.