“Starship’s payload capacity is enormous; it’s very, very big, and there aren’t many commercial uses today for a rocket that big,” she said. “Maybe it will be so cheap that it makes sense to launch satellites on it if it’s not full or nearly full.”
Astronomers, on the other hand, see Starship’s massive capability as a new opportunity to send larger and more ambitious telescopes into space. With today’s rockets, scientists “face strict mass and volume limitations, which limit the physical footprint and capabilities of the instruments,” said Abhi Tripathi, director of mission operations at Space Sciences. Lab at the University of California at Berkeley.
“With these constraints relaxed and the launch cost reduced with a rapidly reusable vehicle, Starship really expands the workspace in which scientists and engineers can create new missions,” said Dr Tripathi, who previously worked at SpaceX.
The US military has its own designs for SpaceX rockets. In January, the Air Force gave SpaceX $102 million to study using the spacecraft as a freighter that could deploy resources to various parts of the world in minutes, or point-to-point transport. Potentially, Starship would launch into orbit and re-enter over a particular region to deliver humanitarian supplies or military cargo in a fraction of the time it takes traditional military aircraft. The legality and logistics of such a concept, however, remain unclear.
Will Starship really bring SpaceX to Mars?
Over the past decade, the idea of Starship has taken many forms.
The rocket even had other names: Mars Colonial Transporter, Interplanetary Transport System, and BFR (which officially at least stood for Big Falcon Rocket). By tweet, Mr Musk changed the name to Starship in 2018. The rocket’s design also morphed – the landing legs and the shape of its aerodynamic fins changed, but its shiny steel exterior remained. An elevator was added to the Starship concept that will land on the moon for NASA, allowing astronauts to descend to the surface from the Starship crew section at the top.
The engines that power Starship, Raptor, have also evolved, with the current version called Raptor 2. But a “complete design overhaul is needed for the engine that can truly make life multiplanetary,” Musk said. said last year engines.
“It won’t be called Raptor.”
And then there’s the matter of surviving a trip to Mars. Asked about developing life support systems for long-duration travel in 2019, Musk said blithely, “I don’t think it’s really that hard to do, compared to the spacecraft itself.”