What is Elon Musk's Starship?

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Yahoo News 08 August, 2021 - 06:17am 9 views

How tall is Starship and superheavy?

Super Heavy alone stands 230 feet (70 meters) tall and Starship SN4 added another 165 feet (50 m) of height. Together they stood a whopping 395 feet tall (120 m), taller than NASA's massive Saturn V moon rocket, which was 363 feet tall (110 m). "Dream come true," Musk wrote on Twitter of the stacked Starship. space.comSpaceX stacks Starship atop massive booster for 1st time to make the world's tallest rocket

The founding ethos of Elon Musk's private spaceflight company SpaceX was to make life multi-planetary. This is partly motivated by existential threats such as an asteroid collision big enough to wipe out humanity.

Settling other planets would place some of the eggs in other baskets, sparing human civilisation if one of them were to experience a cataclysm.

In 2016, the entrepreneur outlined his rationale at an international conference in Mexico: "History is going to bifurcate along two directions. One path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event," he said.

"The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilisation and a multi-planet species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go."

Musk has often spoken about his dream of building cities on Mars. He believes that settlements would need large numbers of people in order to become self-sustaining.

Realising this dream requires a vehicle that's up to the task. Starship is a rocket and spacecraft combination that could ferry more than 100 people a time to the Red Planet.

The system is designed to be fully reusable, meaning the principal hardware elements are not discarded in the sea or allowed to burn up, as happens with some other launch systems, but are instead recovered from space. They can then be refurbished and flown again, reducing the cost of the whole enterprise.

At launch, the spacecraft, called Starship, will sit atop a rocket called Super Heavy.

The combined system will stand 120m (394ft) -tall and is also referred to as Starship.

Let's take the spacecraft first. With its nosecone and landing fins, the stainless-steel vehicle resembles the rocket-ships from the golden age of science fiction.

At the rear of the 50m (160ft) -long craft are six highly efficient Raptor engines, developed over the course of a decade by SpaceX. The combustion takes place in stages, and the engine's design cuts the amount of propellant that's wasted.

Towards the middle of the vehicle are the propellant tanks. These feed liquid methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (O2) to the Raptors.

Methane is the fuel and oxygen acts as an oxidiser - a chemical that makes the fuel burn. The combination is dubbed methalox.

The choice of fuel is unusual for rocket engines, but methane can generate plenty of thrust. It's also a prudent choice in light of Musk's designs on Mars. The SpaceX founder says that CH4 could be synthesised from Martian subsurface water and from atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), using a chemical process known as the Sabatier reaction.

Re-fuelling Starship for the return trip to Earth using Martian resources would confer a level of self-sufficiency, making journeys both more feasible and cost-effective.

Towards the front of the spacecraft - which is sometimes referred to as the upper stage - is a huge payload compartment that will be able to haul large cargo or people to destinations in deep space.

Now, let's turn to the rocket. Measuring 70m (230ft) -long, Super Heavy will be filled with 3,400 tonnes (6.8 million lbs) of cryogenic (chilled) methalox.

It will be powered by around 32 Raptor engines (this specification has changed several times) and should achieve more than 70 Meganewtons (16 million lbs) of maximum thrust. It should be able to lift at least 100 tonnes of payload, and possibly as much as 150 tonnes, to low-Earth orbit.

This will make Super Heavy more powerful than the immense Saturn V launcher used for the Apollo Moon missions in the 1960s and 70s.

As it ascends from the launch pad, the combined Starship system will begin to pitch over towards the intended orbit.

When the upper stage separates in space, Super Heavy flips over while falling back towards Earth.

As it descends, Super Heavy will deploy steel structures called "grid fins", shaped a bit like potato waffles, from the sides of the booster. These will help steer the rocket stage back towards its launch pad so it can be flown again.

Previously, SpaceX had wanted to ignite Super Heavy's Raptor engines to guide it down to a precision landing on six steel legs. SpaceX does something similar with the first stages of its Falcon 9 rockets, landing them safely on landing pads and drone ships after a launch.

But this thinking has since changed: SpaceX now plans to catch the falling booster using an arm on the launch tower.

This is the structure that provides engineers and crew members with access to the spacecraft and rocket while they are sitting on the pad before launch.

Meanwhile, the Starship upper stage could be inserted into a "parking orbit" after separation, allowing it to be re-filled with propellant.

"If you just fly [Starship] to orbit and don't do any refilling, it's pretty good — you'll get 150 tonnes to low-Earth orbit, and have no fuel to go anywhere else," Musk explained during a conference keynote speech in 2017.

"If you send up tankers and re-fill in orbit, you could re-fill the tanks up all the way to the top, and get 150 tonnes [of payload] all the way to Mars."

To re-fuel, the spacecraft would dock, or mate, with another Starship - already circling the Earth - that acts solely as a propellant depot.

"The two ships would actually mate at the rear section. They would use the same mating interface that they use to connect to the booster on lift-off," Musk said in 2017.

"To transfer propellant it becomes very simple: You use control thrusters to accelerate in the direction that you want to empty."

For long-haul trips to Mars and back - which could take up to nine months each way - Musk is looking to install around 40 cabins in the payload area near the front of the upper stage.

"You could conceivably have five or six people per cabin, if you really wanted to crowd people in. But I think mostly we would expect to see two or three people per cabin, and so nominally about 100 people per flight to Mars," Musk said.

The payload bay would also host common areas, storage space, a galley and a shelter where people could gather to shield from solar storms, where the Sun belches out harmful charged particles into space.

Starship will also play a part in Nasa's Artemis programme, which aims to establish a long-term human presence on the Moon. In April 2021, the US space agency awarded SpaceX with a $2.89bn contract to develop Starship into a lander capable of delivering astronauts to the lunar surface this decade.

The version tailored for Artemis flights would not possess the heat shield or flaps that are necessary for a return journey to Earth. Instead, the Starship Human Landing System would remain in space after its initial launch from Earth, to be used for multiple trips between lunar orbit and the Moon's surface.

The uncrewed, or cargo, version of Starship features a payload bay that opens up like the mouth of a crocodile. This would allow it to be used for launching satellites. SpaceX says the huge payload capacity opens up possibilities for new types of robotic science mission, including telescopes larger than the James Webb observatory - the forthcoming successor to Hubble.

The system could also be used for space tourism and even for high-speed journeys between different destinations on Earth.

Musk says that Starship could eventually carry people to destinations in the "greater Solar System", including gas giants such as Jupiter. But this remains a long-term objective.

In order to bring other spacecraft back to Earth, engineers have relied on parachutes, or designed the vehicle so that it can land on a runway.

But the Starship upper stage takes a different approach. When it is ready to land, the ship initially re-enters the atmosphere at a 60-degree angle and then "belly-flops" to the ground in the horizontal position.

This mode of return relies entirely on the atmosphere to slow the vehicle's descent. The downside is that, in this configuration, Starship is inherently unstable.

The vehicle therefore uses four steel landing flaps, positioned near the front and rear of the vehicle, to control its descent. This is much like a skydiver uses their arms and legs to control a free-fall.

"It's quite different from anything else… we're doing a controlled fall," Elon Musk said during a Starship update in 2019.

"You're trying to create drag rather than lift - it's really the opposite of an aircraft."

As Starship approaches the ground, it should be slow enough to execute an engine burn that flips the vehicle into a vertical position. It then uses the Raptors as retro-rockets to guide the vehicle down to a safe landing.

Musk says this general approach could be used to bring Starship down safely on any planetary surface in the Solar System - Mars included.

In the last few years, SpaceX has tested various prototypes of the vehicle's upper stage at its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

The company started off in 2019 with a 39m-tall "test article" called Starhopper - which bore a passing resemblance to a water tower - and flew it to 150m above ground.

The first prototype to feature a nosecone and flaps - Starship serial number (SN8) - flew to an altitude of 12.5km in December 2020. It belly flopped back to Earth, giving SpaceX valuable engineering data about the final part of the vehicle's return from space.

However, SN8 approached the landing pad a little too fast and hard, causing it to crumple and explode. Three more test articles exploded before Starship SN15 achieved success with a soft landing in May 2021.

SpaceX plans to launch Starship on Super Heavy for its first orbital test flight some time in 2021.

In addition, Elon Musk has promised a lunar excursion in 2023 to the Japanese online retail billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.

Mr Maezawa will fly around the Moon in a Starship with eight other individuals.

Musk has also said he will aim to launch one of the vehicles on an uncrewed flight to Mars in 2024.

And Starship will carry astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon as part of Nasa's Artemis-III mission, which is also targeted for 2024.

Even if the SpaceX founder's timelines might seem optimistic at times, he has also developed a reputation for eventually achieving his goals, no matter how ambitious.

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Elon Musk's SpaceX stacked a Starship prototype rocket atop a Super Heavy rocket booster for the first time on Friday.

SpaceX has achieved another major milestone in its Starship fully reusable launch system: It stacked the Starship spacecraft itself on top of a prototype of its Super Heavy booster, which itself is loaded up with a full complement of 29 Raptor rocket engines, and the Starship on top has six itself. This stacking, which happened at SpaceX's development site in south Texas, is a significant development because it's the first time the two elements of the full Starship system have been united as one. This is the configuration that will be used for launching the next Starship prototype on its test mission that will hopefully achieve orbit.

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SpaceX engineers join together the two segments that make up its new super-rocket system, Starship.

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NEW IMAGES! See First Fully Stacked Starship #shorts

CNET Highlights 09 August, 2021 - 09:30pm

The vehicle's two segments - an upper-stage called Starship and a booster called Super Heavy - were connected together at the firm's Starbase R&D facility in Boca Chica, Texas.

Standing roughly 120m (400ft) in height, the SpaceX rocket dwarfs any previous launch system.

When it eventually lifts off, it will produce about twice the thrust of the vehicles that sent men to the Moon.

The main engines on Apollo's famous Saturn V rockets delivered some 35 meganewtons (nearly 8 million pounds of force) off the pad. The new SpaceX Super Heavy booster should achieve around 70 meganewtons.

A massive crane was needed to join the two segments together. They were held in position for an hour before then being separated again.

SpaceX still has weeks to months of testing ahead of it to prepare for the inaugural flight.

This will see the booster hurl the Starship into space for a once-around-the-Earth trip, which will end with a disposal "landing" in waters off the Hawaiian islands in the Pacific. The Super Heavy will be ditched in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ultimately, though, SpaceX wants both segments of future vehicles to make controlled touchdowns, on land or on sea platforms, so they can be re-used.

Company CEO, Elon Musk, says the Starship system, once fully developed, will be more than capable of taking humans to the Moon and Mars.

It could also ferry people quickly around the globe. Putting satellites in orbit is another obvious application.

The American space agency, Nasa, has already contracted SpaceX to produce a version of the Starship upper-stage that can land astronauts near the lunar south pole this decade.

Friday's milestone follows months of breathtaking activity in Boca Chica.

Engineers have built a succession of prototypes at Starbase. These have helped the design team understand the best way to manufacture the huge stainless steel craft. And by launching some of the Starship iterations on high-altitude hops, SpaceX technicians have also gained invaluable flight experience.

The government agency is currently conducting an environmental review that will invite at some point a 30-day public consultation. So, the maiden orbital outing is still some way off. But Mr Musk is very keen that it should happen well before the end of the year.

He described seeing the brief mating of the segments on Friday as a "dream come true".

The most powerful rocket currently in operation is the Falcon Heavy, also built by SpaceX. This produces 23 meganewtons of thrust at launch.

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The World’s Tallest Rocket Is Here And It’s The SpaceX Starship

Gizbot 07 August, 2021 - 10:58pm

SpaceX has been creating history and breaking records while at it. The latest SpaceX Starship prototype was briefly placed atop its massive booster recently. This set a new record, making the SpaceX Starship the world's tallest rocket. The rocket will be taking its orbital test flight this year and CEO Elon Musk is elated!

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter, saying "Dream come true" once the Starship was stacked. The Starship SN20 and the Super Heavy booster were placed together for nearly an hour to complete the checks. Here, the Super Heavy booster alone measures 230 feet and the Starship adds another 165 feet. Together, they make the world's tallest rocket at 395 feet, which is significantly taller than NASA's Saturn V moon rocket at 363 feet.

Presently, the schedule to liftoff the SpaceX Starship is still under wraps. The Super Heavy booster still has several pressurization and engine tests before the liftoff. Moreover, there are a couple of environmental reviews by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration pending ahead of the Starship launch.

Elon Musk further tweeted that at least four significant items are required before the SpaceX Starship launches. These include the heat shield tiles for Starship, thermal protection for the Super Heavy's engines, more ground system propellant storage tanks, and a quick disconnect arm for Starship. Reports suggest the Super Heavy booster and the Starship will be tested separately.

At the same time, SpaceX is also planning to make the Starship completely reusable. The aim is to make it a two-stage space transporter to send humans and large cargo sets to the Moon. And then, later to Mars and other distant solar system destinations.

Starship on the orbital launch pad pic.twitter.com/7p02cgNnUA

To note, NASA selected the SpaceX Starship as the crewed lander for the Artemis mission to the Moon. However, other space companies like Blue Origin are trying for the contract, offering USD 2 billion as a discount to NASA. NASA under the Trump administration was committed to liftoff the Artemis mission in 2024, but the Biden administration hasn't committed to anything yet.

SpaceX’s stacked Starship and Super Heavy booster taller than Great Pyramid of Giza – Report Door - REPORT DOOR

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