Elon Musk has the ambition to set up a colony on Mars. His company SpaceX is readying its Starship for the long trip to the planet. But is the Starship capable of the task? This is a sneak peak into the insane evolution of the Spaceship. (more below video…)
While the Starship is meant to take people to Mars, and was initially named Mars Colonial Transporter, it is actually a versatile aircraft. For example, NASA has tapped on it to land its astronauts on the moon. SpaceX is even designing it to be capable of shuttles right here on planet earth. And ultimately, Musk wants the Starship to go embark on missions beyond Mars. It has appropriately been renamed the Interplanetary Transport System. The first mention of a vehicle to Mars was by Musk himself in 2012 when he was publicly discussing SpaceX’s Mars strategy. It was going to be funded completely privately but if you have followed this channel, you would already know that has changed. Right from the planning stage, the vehicle to Mars was meant to be reusable as the CEO envisioned numerous trips to move both support systems and inhabitants to the planet. The vehicle would drop its cargo, refuel and make a return trip to planet earth, just like thousands of airplanes do every day. Elon planned to settle the first set of explorers on Mars by the middle of the 2020’s. In a way, the Starship could be considered an offshoot of the Falcon 9, which on its own was an impressive piece of machinery. In fact, in the public announcement of the existence of the Starship, Musk said the spaceship would be an evolution of the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster and it would be much bigger. Interestingly, Musk promised to delay any IPO on SpaceX until after the Starship has been making regular flights. Musk revealed more details about the whole mission to mass in 2016, further discussing the Starship. We also saw the Raptor engine, a crucial component of the Starship, around the same period. The following year, Musk revealed how the Mars mission architecture would pay for itself, at least in part. SpaceX would take on commercial flights on contract using the Mars vehicle. The suborbital and lunar runs would also serve as testing opportunities. The Design of the Starship The Starship has two main parts or stages: the booster part or first stage and the space faring part or upper stage. The space fairing part is multi-function, as it could be used as a crewed capsule for delivering astronauts to space for instance, or as an unmanned cargo delivery vehicle, or an inter planetary fuel tanker for refueling other spacecraft. The two parts will each have its own system of rockets named Raptors. The rocket engine will use a novel fuel combination of Methane and Oxygen. The design improves upon the Falcon 9, which had performance issues stemming from its use of high pressure helium pressurization system. By proportions, the Starship is a behemoth, and that is saying a lot in the world of spacecraft where everything is jumbo sized. It towers above most things at 122 meters tall. To reduce weight, both stages of the Starship are to be made from carbon fibre, unlike the Falcon 9 that was made from aluminium lithium alloy. Both stages would be reusable as Musk was planning for thousands of trips to Mars per year.
SpaceX’s Starship: On the Cusp of the First Orbital Flight
For the first time ever, the Super Heavy Booster is set to lift the Starship spacecraft into orbit.