SpaceX Starship booster weathers thunderstorm ahead of first ‘cryo proof’

Science

Teslarati 08 July, 2021 - 03:15pm 61 views

When will Super Heavy launch?

In February 2018, the КРК СТК (space rocket complex of the super-heavy class) design was updated to lift at least 90 tonnes to LEO and 20 tonnes to lunar polar orbit, and to be launched from Vostochny Cosmodrome. The first flight is scheduled for 2028, with Moon landings starting in 2030. wikipedia.orgSuper heavy-lift launch vehicle

By Ryan Morrison For Mailonline

The next SpaceX 160ft Starship prototype, known as SN20, will be launched into orbit as early as next month strapped to the massive Super Heavy booster.

Starship requires the booster stage to reach orbit and combined the two reach a whopping 394ft tall, much larger than the Statue of Liberty with its full plinth, which reaches 305ft. Without the plinth Lady Liberty is closer is 151ft, closer in size to the upper stage of Starlink, which stands at 160ft.

SN20 will launch for low Earth orbit once construction has finished of the orbital launch tower at the SpaceX Boca Chica facility in Texas later this month.

According to a filing with the FCC, the prototype will launch from Texas and make a 'soft ocean landing' off the coast of Hawaii after 90 minutes in orbit. 

The Elon Musk-owned space firm hasn't confirmed when they will launch the prototype, but experts predict it could be as soon as early August.

Once the booster gets Starship into orbit it will come back to Earth making a landing in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles from shore, ready to fly again in future.

SpaceX has completed a number of tests on the 160ft Starship upper stage, with the most recent, SN15, landing on the launch pad after a short high-altitude flight, but this will be the first test of the full Starship system, including the booster stage.

The fully re-usable Starship rocket will be able to carry a payload of more than 220,000lb into low Earth orbit, and even send humans to Mars in future.

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Starship requires the booster stage to reach orbit and combined the two reach a whopping 394ft tall, larger than the Statue of Liberty and its full plinth

An artist's impression reveals what the Starship SN20 and Super Heavy booster will look like on SpaceX’s Orbital Launch Mount

The Super Heavy booster is required to give the 160ft Starship the lift necessary to get into orbit, once it performs its service it will come back to Earth making a landing in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 miles from shore

SpaceX Starship is made up of two stages, the Super Heavy booster and the Starship vehicle on top.

Super Heavy fires and gives Starship the boost it needs to reach orbit.

Once in space, Starship separates and continues its journey, while Super Heavy returns to land on the ground.

It is designed to be a reusable launch vehicle that could put humans on Mars, according to founder Elon Musk.

The first stage, or booster, of the next-generation launch system with a gross liftoff mass of over three million kg.

It uses sub-cooled liquid methane and liquid oxygen (CH4/LOX) propellants. 

The booster will return to land at the launch site on its six legs. 

Height: 70m (230ft) 

Diameter: 9m (30ft) 

Starship is the fully reusable spacecraft and second stage of the Starship system. 

It offers an integrated payload section and is capable of carrying passengers and cargo to Earth orbit, planetary destinations, and between destinations on Earth. 

According to SpaceX, Starship is both the Super Heavy and the upper stage combined, with the upper stage the only portion so far tested by the firm. 

The Super Heavy Booster BN4 prototype is currently being built and when finished it will be moved to the launch pad where a massive orbital launch tower is currently under construction.

The seventh section of the tower was lifted into place last week, and final construction is due for completion by the end of the month. 

Musk shared photos of the earlier BN3 prototype on July 1, showing the mammoth booster towering over Starbase. 

Alone, the booster stands at 230ft and when the Starship is added it will reach almost 400ft - the tallest rocket ever made. 

SpaceX had originally hoped to launch this month, but Elon Musk said he'd be happy to have Starship stacked on top of the Super Heavy by the end of the month, with a launch the following month. 

For the next test, once launched into orbit, Starship will perform a powered, targeted landing after achieving orbit, coming down 60 miles off the Hawaii coast.

The FCC filing explains: 'The Starship Orbital test flight will originate from Starbase,' the home of SpaceX in Boca Chica, Texas, then the booster stage will separate 170 seconds into the flight.

'The Booster will then perform a partial return and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore,' the filing says.

'The Orbital Starship will continue on flying between the Florida Straits. 

'It will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted landing approximately 100km (~62 miles) off the northwest coast of Kauai in a soft ocean landing.'  

A year ago, Elon Musk announced to SpaceX employees that Starship progress was a top priority, with progress accelerating 'dramatically and immediately.' 

When Super Heavy and Starship are combined they stand 394ft tall, and will be able to carry a payload of more than 220,000lb into low Earth orbit and be fully reusable. Making it the largest rocket ever created

The Super Heavy Booster BN4 prototype is currently being built and when finished it will be moved to the launch pad where a massive orbital launch tower is currently under construction

The orbital part of Starship, the portion tested so far, will perform a powered, targeted landing after achieving orbit, coming down 60 miles off the Hawaii coast

A map provided as part of SpaceX's FCC filing shows how the Starship rocket would launch from Texas before reaching orbit

That resulted in a rapid increase in Starship prototypes being built, often with a new prototype ready before the previous one had even been tested.

The test flights have ranged from static firing the engines, to launching up to six miles into the air and attempting to land back down on the launch pad.

The first time SpaceX achieved a landing without blowing up was on May 5, when the SN15 rocket flew six miles up then returned safely to the landing pad. 

SpaceX has completed a number of tests on the 160ft Starship upper stage, with the most recent, SN15, landing on the launch pad after a short high-altitude flight, but this will be the first test of the full Starship system, including the booster stage

 When Super Heavy and Starship are combined they stand 394ft tall, and will be able to carry a payload of more than 220,000lb into low Earth orbit and be fully reusable

SpaceX is working with the FCC, US Air Force, NASA and the FAA for the flight to arrange the safest time to launch. 

One of SpaceX's key goals is to ensure that the Starship rockets are reusable, and future tests will see both stages return to the launch pad, rather than the ocean.  

Musk has calculated that to put one million humans on Mars by 2025, his Starship rockets would need to conducted around three flights a day and a total of 1,000 flights a year. 

The BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), now known as Starship, will complete all missions and is smaller than the ones Musk announced in 2016.

The SpaceX CEO said the rocket would take its first trip to the red planet in 2024, carrying only cargo, followed by a manned mission in 2026 and claimed other SpaceX's products would be 'cannibalised' to pay for it.

The rocket would be partially reusable and capable of flight directly from Earth to Mars.

Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth — saying that passengers would be able to get anywhere in under an hour.

To date, the Starship series of rockets have seen 9 test flights — some resulting in successful short-distance hops, while others led to explosions or crash landings.

The most recent experimental launch — involving the Starship SN15 prototype — took place on May 5, 2021 and saw the craft complete a 33,000 feet high-altitude flight test into low-lying clouds, complete with successful ascent, engine cut-offs, flip manoeuvre, flap control and soft touchdown.

A small fire did erupt at the base of the rocket following its landing, but this was later extinguished. 

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Elon Musk Says New Spacecraft Will "Chomp Up" Space Junk

Futurism 08 July, 2021 - 07:26am

That could make launching rockets increasingly difficult in the future, let alone the danger space debris poses to space travelers.

But in a Saturday tweet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk suggested that Starship — his space company’s Mars-bound spacecraft that’s currently in development — might be a potential solution to the problem.

“We can fly Starship around space and chomp up debris with the moving fairing door,” he tweeted.

The spacecraft is designed to open its two gigantic fairing doors when in orbit — kind of like the beak of a bird — to release payloads from within, according to SpaceX’s official Starship Users Guide released last year.

The same mechanism could be used to trap space junk, Musk now says.

The standard clamshell-style payload fairing is just shy of 30 feet in diameter, the “largest usable payload volume of any current or in development launcher,” according to the document.

It’s not the first time the idea has been floated.

“It’s quite possible we could leverage Starship to go to some of these dead rocket bodies — other people’s rockets of course — basically go pick up some of this junk in outer space,” SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell told TIME in October.

“It’s not gonna be easy, but I do believe that Starship offers the possibility of going and doing that and I’m really excited about it,” she added.

READ MORE: Elon Musk says SpaceX’s Starship could ‘chomp up’ space junk with its moving door on the way to Mars [Insider]

More on Starship: SpaceX Scrubs Launch After Aircraft Enters “Keep Out Zone”

Starship: SpaceX's Mars-bound rocket is getting a jaw-dropping upgrade

Inverse 08 July, 2021 - 07:26am

SpaceX's Starship is set for a powerful upgrade. Here's what you need to know.

Last week, CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that the company plans to build an engine known as “Raptor 2.” This would be a more powerful version of the Raptor engine, currently being used for the under-development Starship vehicle.

It’s a big boost of power for the engine behind Musk’s Mars-bound rocket. First unveiled in 2017 under the name “BFR,” the stainless steel Starship is a fully reusable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane. Unlike previous rockets like SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which uses rocket propellant as part of its fuel, the Starship’s new fuel is intended to enable astronauts to fly to Mars and refuel using the planet’s resources.

It’s a more powerful, tweaked version of the existing Raptor engine. This engine has been used for test flights with Starship prototype models, the most recent of which in May 2021 reached a height of 33,000 feet.

The Starship consists of two components:

In total, the construction is expected to measure around 400 feet tall.

These are both powered by the Raptor engine. While the ship features six engines, Musk explained in September 2019 that the booster could hold anywhere between 24 and 37 engines.

There are two variants of the Raptor engine:

In May 2020, Musk noted that the sea-level variant has a thrust of around 200 tons, but there were plans to increase this over time to 250 tons.

That appeared to be confirmed by Musk last week when he posted on Twitter:

Musk further confirmed:

So, in effect, this sequel is an engine that packs a bit more thrust.

SpaceX’s website shows the previous plan was for the Super Heavy to offer thrust of 16 million pounds. Musk’s comments suggest this figure could reach 17 million pounds.

By comparison, the most powerful rocket to ever fly was the Saturn V. It last flew in 1973, and generated just 7.6 million pounds of thrust.

The firm has kept things slightly vaguer when it comes to payload capacity. Its website claims it can lift over 100 metric tons to low-Earth orbit. That may be an underestimate: a user guide in April 2020, analyzed by YouTuber "Everyday Astronaut," suggested the rocket could lift something closer to 156 metric tons to low-Earth orbit.

At the time, Musk confirmed this was indeed the long-term goal:

For Mars missions, the more important information could be that “T/W” of 1.5. The thrust-to-weight ratio shows how the thrust compares to the weight of the vehicle itself. Unlike an aircraft that takes off horizontally, a rocket that launches vertically needs its thrust to be higher than its weight. The higher thrust-to-weight, the greater acceleration.

In January 2021, Musk explained that a higher ratio is critical for a reusable ship like Starship:

Sending up more cargo at a time is cool, but for the reusable Starship, the ship needs to use propellant as efficiently as possible to return home from Mars.

Raptor 2 could help enable SpaceX’s crewed mission to Mars, expected sometime this decade.

Elon Musk Suggests Turning a Starship Into a Giant Space Telescope

Futurism 08 July, 2021 - 07:26am

Now, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is saying that it could also be used to bring astronomical observations into the 21st century.

In a Wednesday tweet, Musk suggested that the “ship itself” could serve as the “structure for a new giant telescope” with ten times the resolution of NASA’s Hubble — an indication that the billionaire still has plenty of big ideas left for the company’s spacecraft.

According to Musk, the idea of turning a Starship spacecraft into a massive space telescope was first suggested to him by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter.

The news comes after NASA’s aging Hubble Space Telescope had to put its scientific investigations on pause last month due to a software glitch. NASA scientists are now desperately looking for a fix to get the telescope back on track.

In a previous tweet, Musk elaborated on his plans for the Mars-bound rocket to act as a “dedicated deep space variant” that can be refueled in orbit could allow SpaceX to launch even heavier payloads to faraway destinations, including the Moon and Mars.

A chart published by NASA’s Launch Services program today compared the performance of various rockets, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy among them. According to the numbers, an “expendable” version of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, a heavy-lift variant of the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, is capable of sending over 26,000 pounds all the way to Mars.

Starship, however, could increase that number almost tenfold if its development goes according to plan. SpaceX still has plenty of work to do before the first Starship will go into orbit, let alone one that can turn itself into a giant telescope once there.

The first prototype may make its first attempt to reach orbit in the coming weeks, with a planned splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of Hawaii.

But once established as a stable platform, like its Falcon 9 predecessor, Starship has an opportunity to push the boundaries of astronomy by continuing Hubble’s legacy in orbit.

More on Starship: Elon Musk Says New Spacecraft Will “Chomp Up” Space Junk

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks Starship space telescopes, artificial gravity

Teslarati 08 July, 2021 - 07:26am

In his latest batch of tweets, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says that the company is already thinking about the many potential ways its next-generation Starship launch vehicle could be used in space.

Already, ideas publicly touted by the SpaceX CEO range from using Cargo Starships to clean up space debris with its mouth-like payload bay to a stripped-down, expendable variant of the rocket to rapidly send massive spacecraft throughout the solar system. Now, Musk says that SpaceX has also considered tethering Starships together in space to create a form of artificial gravity for passengers on multi-month journeys between planets, as well as the possibility of turning entire Starships into all-in-one orbital observatories a magnitude more powerful than Hubble.

Apparently invoked during discussions with astrophysicist and Nobel laureate Saul Perlmutter, at least parts of the physics community are already considering the possibilities offered by using Starship as a sort of foundation or spacecraft bus that could carry and operate vast scientific payloads. While Starship has already been officially floated several times as a serious contender for launch services for major future missions, this concept would instead see Starship function as the spacecraft itself.

As of 2021, Starship has yet to reach space or orbit once, but SpaceX isn’t far from that milestone. Eventually, perhaps just a few years from now, Starship will have successfully launched to and operated in orbit dozens or even hundreds of times and become a mature and reliable spacecraft.

Yeah, that would be cool. Also, using ship itself as structure for new giant telescope that’s >10X Hubble resolution. Was talking to Saul Perlmutter (who’s awesome) & he suggested wanting to do that.

At that point, it wouldn’t be out of the question to entrust Starships themselves to serve as long-lasting scientific spacecraft, exploiting a ‘bus’ that could offer abundant power, propulsion, thermal management, navigation, and communications capabilities to any ‘hosted’ payloads. That includes extensively modifying Starships on the ground to create vast space observatories, among numerous other possibilities.

Given Starship’s low production cost, 9-meter (~30 ft) diameter, and nominal ability to deliver at least 100 metric tons (~220,000 lb) of payload to low Earth orbit (LEO), it’s not inconceivable that ships could be outfitted with massive telescopes and scientific instruments. Perhaps more importantly, drastically reduced payload constraints (more than an order of magnitude relative to the Hubble or James Webb telescopes) could allow major innovation in spacecraft/instrument design, radically lowering costs while still improving reliability, redundancy, and performance.

Meanwhile, Musk says that SpaceX has also considered tethering crewed Starships together and spinning them around the center of that tether to create artificial gravity for crewmembers on months-long journeys between Earth, Mars, and other planets. Among fan communities, the tethered gravity concept has been circulating ever since SpaceX first announced Starship in 2016. Loosely researched by NASA and other institutions for decades, no real experimental efforts – save for a single halting test during a 1960s Gemini mission – have ever been pursued.

For Starship, orbital refueling could easily allow SpaceX to cut crewed Earth-Mars transit time to 100 days or less – subjecting astronauts to significantly less time in microgravity than those that crew the International Space Station (ISS). The value proposition of artificial gravity on 3-month cruises is likely substantially less clear-cut given the far-reaching complexity and modifications required to make such a system functional and make Starships compatible.

Regardless, Musk rather cryptically says that SpaceX has considered the concept, though he didn’t elaborate on whether the company ultimately decided to drop the subject or pursue it further.

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This week in space: How to deflect an asteroid with a SpaceX rocket

Chron 08 July, 2021 - 07:26am

This Week In Space  brings you what’s new and exciting in space exploration and astronomy once a week, every week. From supernovae to SpaceX or Mars missions to black holes, if it’s out of this world, it’s covered here.

SpaceX’s Starship may be good for more than transporting cargo, fuel or even humans. According to a recent paper, it could be ideal for future missions to redirect asteroids before they collide with the Earth.

At this spring’s Planetary Defense Conference, Aaron Boley and Michael Byers of Canada’s Outer Space Institute described how a spacecraft like Starship could be used to pull nearby asteroids into safer orbits. The ship wouldn’t have to make physical contact with the asteroid, but could instead act as a “gravity tractor”, staying close and carefully managing its gravitational pull to deflect the rock before it nears Earth.

Yet just as asteroids can be subtly shifted away from the Earth, they can also be nudged toward it. Boley and Byers warn that in the future, if no one controls who visits asteroids (whether for mining, science, or glory) a single botched rocket landing could shove an asteroid onto a collision course with the Earth.

The best policy, then, is to be proactive and manage any asteroids that might pose a future danger. It may not take an asteroid coming right at us for a craft like Starship to be called to action.

We may never know the true nature of Oumuamua. The interstellar object—which has been explained as a nitrogen comet, a fragment of a Pluto-like planet around another star and even an alien spacecraft powered by a futuristic solar sail—was already heading out of the solar system by the time it was discovered. It was impossible for any probe to catch up to it for a close study. The next time we have a mysterious visitor, though, NASA could be ready—and with a solar sail of its own. 

In collaboration with multiple private space corporations and UCLA, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has proposed a mission to rendezvous with the next Oumuamua-type object that enters the Solar System. To do so, it would use a solar sail: a huge, lightweight sheet designed to be thrust forward by the physical pressure of the sun’s radiation.  

The mission envisions a 100-pound spacecraft powered by a sail about as big as a football field, but narrower than one-tenth the width of a human hair. The whole thing would “park” in an orbit close to the Sun. When the next Ouamuamua is discovered, the craft would turn and launch after it, quickly attaining speeds of over 50,000 mph. It would be able to intercept the visitor in a matter of days, take remote measurements, and then crash on purpose to generate a cloud of debris for astronomers to study.

The collaboration hopes to do a demo mission in 2025 and move on to a full intercept within the decade. If successful, it would provide the first-ever sample of material from another planetary system, and with it, a major clue to understanding the building blocks of planets everywhere.

China announced plans to build a solar power plant in orbit above the Earth. The costs involved—and international displeasure—may pose obstacles. But if achieved, the technology would be much more efficient than solar farms here on Earth, which have to deal with the atmosphere and Earth’s shadow blocking the sun’s rays.

A space-based solar array is ambitious, even for China. According to Andrew Jones at SpaceNews, constructing the array would involve over 100 rocket launches of about 10,000 tons of material. Assuming the launch vehicle’s price tag falls somewhere between the cost of the beleaguered Space Launch System and the efficient Falcon Heavy, that puts the launches alone at around $100 billion, enough to run all of NASA’s projects for five years.

Even if China is willing to hand over the cash, there’s no guarantee the rest of the world would allow it. Because energy from the solar farm would be sent down to Earth in an intense microwave beam, the array would have to be kept out of the way of other satellites—or vice versa.

The aim is to have a facility up and running by 2030. Only decades later, in 2050, would it grow to produce energies comparable to an Earth-based power plant. Perhaps someone could interest China in another $100 billion project (say, 25,000 wind farms, or 100 nuclear power plants) instead?

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Elon Musk's SpaceX Set to Launch the First Billboard to Space

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A CubeSat displaying customized ads is set to be released from a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket as a part of GEC’s Rideshare Program. Due to the rapid rise of satellite technology, companies like GEC have been able to produce their own CubeSats to bring small billboards to space.

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Elon Musk admits that Tesla’s key feature is currently out of his grasp

Inverse 07 July, 2021 - 08:00pm

Tesla recalls 285,000 cars; Starlink looks to grow; Musk criticizes his SpaceX competition.

“Nothing has more degrees of freedom than reality.” — Elon Musk tweeted on July 3 in response to a fan anxiously awaiting the most recent Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta update. “Didn’t expect [full-self driving] to be so hard,” he wrote in the tweet. “But the difficulty is obvious in retrospect.”

This year, Tesla has had difficulty getting the public to trust in their Autopilot features, and although the heat can set a mood, this summer might not help with that. At least not after U.S. publications announced last week that Tesla had voluntarily recalled 285,520 of their Shanghai-made Model 3 and Model Y cars.

The recall followed what China’s State Administration for Market Regulation identified as Tesla’s concern that cruise control could accidentally be activated in these cars, making drivers unsafe by placing them in an unexpected situation. Luckily, the recall should be an easy fix. All owners of recalled vehicles will have to do is upgrade their software for free, either remotely or at a Tesla China location.

Tesla China posts promotional photos of the Model 3.

Although the recall is relatively tame news, anyone with a seed of concern about Tesla’s Autopilot safety might find it disconcerting, especially since Musk himself admitted that full self-driving is trickier to obtain than anticipated. This is especially an issue for potential Tesla buyers in China who have already been inundated with misinformation on Tesla’s safety by social media.

Still, there are no hard feelings between Elon Musk and China at large, at least not on Musk’s side. He tweeted on June 30 that “the economic prosperity that China has achieved is truly amazing, especially in infrastructure.” Hopefully, Tesla won’t be left out of it.

On June 29, Musk led an in-depth discussion on Starlink at the Mobile World Conference, claiming that users can expect “global connectivity everywhere except the Poles” beginning in August, emphasizing that the service is operational and intended for rural users. Although Musk repeated that Starlink’s goal is “not to go bankrupt,” he anticipates investing as much as $10 billion before reaching “positive cash flow.”

It’s possible that could happen by 2022, as Musk said Starlink expects to expand its 10,000 users to about 500,000 in the next 12 months.

In other positive SpaceX news, Musk is hoping to, at the very least, complete stacking Starship’s orbital ship to its Super Heavy booster later this month for what will be Starship’s first-ever orbital flight. In less positive SpaceX news, Musk has been vocalizing his displeasure towards various rocket-related societal ills, including what he identifies as the monopoly launch service United Launch Alliance has over U.S. government launches.

“I guess I should take my own advice and just work on saving the things I love,” Musk tweeted on July 1 after sending a series of disgruntled messages to ULA CEO Tory Bruno. Since then, he certainly has been.

Elon Musk calls to end Britney Spears’ conservatorship.

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Elon Musk Says SpaceX's Mars-Bound Starship Launch Vehicle Can 'Chomp up' Space Debris Using Its Door

Mashable India 07 July, 2021 - 10:14am

The European Space Agency or ESA, meanwhile, claims that there are around 34,000 objects greater than 10cm in diameter and 900,000 that measure between one and 10cm circling the Earth. With more and more satellites being space-bound, this alarming number will likely only increase.

Well, Elon Musk's SpaceX has a solution to the problem.

Yes, we can fly Starship around space & chomp up debris with the moving fairing door

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk suggests that Starship, which is SpaceX’s Mars-bound spacecraft that’s currently in development, might feature a solution that "chomp(s) up" space debris. Musk in response to a tweet asking him about how to eventually collect all the surrounding space debris tweeted, “We can fly Starship around space and chomp up debris with the moving fairing door."

How? Musk doesn't delve into specifics but SpaceX's user guide for Starship's rocket system states that the fairing door — which is like a massive cover — is capable of opening by itself when it reached a certain orbit, which then a spacecraft can deploy itself. The fairing door on the Starship is also capable of closing right before the Starship comes back down to Earth.

SpaceX president, Gwynne Shotwell, also said that the Starship has the capabilities to pick up space junk that is currently orbiting our planet. The said debris can be stored back into the Starship's cargo bay until safely reaching back to Earth.

In an interview with Time Magazine, Shotwell stated last year that, "It's not going to be easy, but I do believe Starship offers the possibility of going and doing that."

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