Undeniable fact of SpaceX’s Starship, stacked atop the Superheavy rocket is its immensity. the rocket ship is a shiny stainless steel tower the height of a skyscraper at the SpaceX South Texas Starbase facility. Its goal is to deliver 100 metric tons of people and material anywhere in the solar system, either to Earth orbit or to the moon and Mars with rfill up. When it flies, it goes revolve the art and science of space travel just as the ocean-going caravel traveled the seas centuries ago.
Rrecently CEO of SpaceX Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskWithout better space weather information, America’s space aspirations will be dashed Elon Musk lambasted for tweeting Adolf Hitler Hillicon Valley meme made a presentation on the ship to a crowd at the starbase with the launcher in the background.
Of major interest, Musk says he will be able to perform the spacecraft’s first orbital test this year, pending environmental approval which it expects to obtain in March. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that the rreport has been postponed to March 28.
Musk has a contingency plan to move operations to Florida if the rregulators decide to throw some away roadblocks in its path – but a move to Florida would delay Starship development by six to eight months. NASA, which relies on her to land astronauts on the Moon, wouldn’t be too happy either.
Some parties wouldn’t mind if the Starship were to be delayed somewhat. Political reports that SpaceX’s competitors are freaked out by the implications of an operational Starship. It’s bad enough, from their perspective, that the SpaceX Falcon 9 has greatly rreduces the cost of launching objects and people into space. The Starship, according to Musk, will be able to transport an absurd amount of equipment and people, first to low Earth orbit and then to the Moon and Mars, for a few tens of millions of dollars per launch. Beyond competition at home, Russia and China, which have their own space ambitions, are also watching closely.
In any case, that the Starship/Superheavy rocket is approved for launch from Texas or is scheduled to travel to Florida, the first orbital test will see the Superheavy splash down in the ocean near the launch site, and the Starship will land in the ocean near Hawaii. Subsequent launches will undoubtedly test the ability of both stages to land intact at the spaceport launch site.
Once the spacecraft has proven its ability to launch, conduct orbital operations and then land safely, the possibilities are nearly endless. SpaceX already has plans for the rocket to launch Starlink satellites, hundreds at a time rrather than a few dozen that the Falcon 9 can deliver. The Starship could provide a space telescope several times the size and capabilities of Hubble or a full commercial space station.
Billionaire Jared Isaacman, who previously flown with a group on SpaceX’s Crewed Dragonnow plans a series of flights culminating in the first crewed Starship. Further into the future, billionaire Yusaku Maezawa still plans to take a group artists on a Starship on an epic journey around the moon.
A version of the Starship has already been chosen to be the Human Landing System that will bring astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in decades. SpaceX has committed to conducting an uncrewed test before human landing, currently scheduled for 2025.
While NASA only plans one Artemis mission per year, SpaceX may be able to land equipment and people on the moon several times a year. It all depends on whether the company can control rrapid launch, landing and rotation, as well as rreliable rrefueling in low earth orbit. If SpaceX can establish an Earth-Moon transport system on its own, NASA’s Orion/Space launch system would quickly become obsolete.
Musk’s ultimate goal is to establish a city on Mars. He suggested that he would have to ferry a million tons of material across interplanetary gulfs, not to mention those people who offer to become colonists of Mars, for that to happen. If the Starship/Superheavy system can do this, the launcher will have changed the course of history. Humanity will truly become an interplanetary civilization.
Mark R. Whittington is the author of Space Exploration Studies”Why is it so difficult to return to the Moon?” as well as “The Moon, Mars and beyond,” and “Why is America going back to the Moon?“He blogs about Grumpy corner.