In September, Elon Musk unveiled the first form of the upcoming Starship. With SpaceX’s mission of establishing a human colony on Mars, this vehicle may be the catalyst to get us there.
This innovation consists of a reusable launch vehicle, spacecraft, and a Super Heavy rocket. Seeker reports that the spacecraft is built to hold up to 100 passengers and will shuttle both people and cargo to regions beyond Earth.
The base of the model is made with stainless steel, which is denser and more durable than carbon fiber so it will be able to withstand heat. Additionally, it is also cheaper than other proposed materials.
The vehicle is powered by six raptor engines, three of these will be used for its time within the planet’s atmosphere, while the rest will be for propulsion into space. Each engine is filled with cryogenic methane and liquid oxygen.
Despite the power of these base engines, the rocket itself is a mechanical powerhouse. The creation stands at 68 meters high and is has 72 meganewtons of thrust at liftoff. Furthermore, it can carry a whopping 100 metric tons. This is because the actual rocket holds 37 raptor engines.
Once the Starship unit enters Earth’s orbit, the booster and spacecraft will detach. Then spacecraft will carry on to its intended destination while the rocket will return back to earth. Despite being such a juggernaut, the rocket will land vertically and elegantly back on the ground.
There are several intended uses for the Starship as it is planned to replace both the Falcon 9 and Dragon 2 vehicles. SpaceX wants to use it to launch the largest portion of the Starlink constellation with life than 12,000 of these satellites planned for launch by 2026. Additionally, it would be used for long-duration flights in the cislunar region.
SpaceX also hopes to run supply missions to the International Space Station with the Starship. However, there is an added incentive of being able to shuttle both crew and cargo at a lower cost than its Falcon vehicles.
There are also proposals to use Starship as a future form of high-speed commercial travel. This would save thirteen hours of flight time on a New York to Tokyo journey. Although, it would be a while before the innovation is used for this purpose.
The most ambitious plan for the Starship is ventures to Mars and even outer planets, where it will be used to transport both cargo and astronauts.
For now, Musk hopes to run a test flight for the Starship as early as Spring next year. Each component of the production is an engineering feat by itself. The combination of them together will usher in a new generation of space exploration.
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