Earlier today, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk held an event in Boca Chica, Texas, and introduced the latest developments of “Starship”.
Before discussing the details of Starship, Musk said that it is necessary to discuss why the starship was developed. As Musk said human beings are becoming a multi-planet species, which is critical to future life.
“It is very important, essential, that over the long term that we become a multi-planet species and ultimately even go beyond the solar system, and bring life with us,” he says.
Another reason, he points out, is to motivate humans. Also, he said that there are too many problems on the planet to solve. “I completely agree that the vast majority of resources should be dedicated to solving problems on Earth,” Musk says. “I’d say like more than 99% of our resources should be oriented towards solving problems on Earth.”
“Chopsticks” Robotic Arm
Rapid reuse is key to Starship. To accomplish this, SpaceX will use the “chopstick” robotic arm on the launch tower to retrieve the rocket booster. In this way, the launch tower can enable the launch and recovery of the Starship, enabling rapid refurbishment and re-flight.
Musk has set an ambitious goal for Starship. “Our goal is to build at least one stack (a combination of spacecraft and rocket) every month, and eventually maybe one every three days,” he said. “We’re going to have more spacecraft than rocket boosters because even if the booster is big, it should be able to come back in about six minutes.”
Theoretically, the spacecraft could be launched again every six to eight hours, the booster could be relaunched in an hour, and it would take just six minutes to reach space and return.
Musk disclosed the technical specifications of the starship: It can send 100 to 150 tons of payload to orbit and may carry 200 tons of propellant to orbit to refuel other starships in space. This is a key moment in traveling to Mars.
Starship SpaceX is also developing Human Landing System (HLS) for NASA. The vehicle will return American astronauts to the lunar surface in 2025 as part of Artemis III, the third mission of the Artemis return to the moon program.
Musk calls the tower and launch system “level zero.” He also revealed that it took SpaceX 13 months to build the launch tower at StarBase. The launch tower would not only support the rocket launch but also help complete the recovery by “grabbing” the starship as it returns from orbit.
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Raptor 2 Engine
SpaceX’s CEO also reviewed some of the key parameters of the super-heavy rocket. The super-heavy rocket is 69 meters high and has twice the thrust of the Saturn 5, the largest NASA launch vehicle to date. (Saturn 5 helped NASA send humans to the moon.)
The Raptor 2 has a thrust of 230 tons. According to Musk, it should be able to increase to 250 tons. The design of the Raptor 2 has been greatly simplified, becoming much stronger.
Elon Musk Talked About the Future tasks
Elon Musk said that the Starship will carry out the “Starlink” satellite launch mission in the future, NASA’s manned spaceflight mission. However, he did not give an expected timetable for these missions.
He also mentioned the “Dear Moon” space travel program. In 2023, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will embark on a starship trip around the moon with a dozen of artists of his choice. However, it’s unclear if SpaceX will be able to live up to that timeline. The end of 2023 is now less than 24 months away, but they seem to have a lot of work to do.
Then, SpaceX released a stunning video showing the Starship landing on Mars. “Let’s make this real,” Musk said, repeating again, “let’s make this real.”
In the 5-minute video, the company shows the use of the starship and the entire launch process in detail. From the video, we can learn that the thrusters will return to Earth after helping the starship lift off. Thus, they can be easily recovered and reused, reducing the overall operating cost. Plus, it can connect the starships to each other in space.
The video also shows an exciting Mars base at the end. It’s a scene where a large number of interstellar spacecraft land at the same time.
At the press conference, Elon Musk said that he hopes that the interstellar spacecraft can transport a large number of materials and build a self-sufficient “Mars City” on Mars. The hardships and dangers of the journey to Mars are one of SpaceX’s “selling points.”
Orbital Flight Test
There was a question concerning an orbital flight test of Starship. Musk said the problem is now stuck on the FAA’s environmental assessment. Moreover, the company doesn’t know much about the FAA’s progress. But they hope the test could be approved in March, that’s all they know.
Elon Musk then added that he was pretty sure Starship would be launched into orbit by the end of the year.