SpaceX’s next-generation launch vehicle, Starship, will be a multipurpose spacecraft. The aerospace company plans to develop multiple variants of the Starship. A stainless-steel Starship designed for missions to Mars, capable of carrying one hundred passengers or 100 tons of cargo. Starships that land on the Red Planet could also be used build Mars Base Alpha, as living headquarters for the first Martian settlers. Another Starship variant, will be a lunar-optimized Starship specially designed to touch down on the Moon. NASA awarded SpaceX a contract to develop a Starship Human Landing System to land Artemis astronauts on the Moon by 2024. SpaceX also envisions developing a Starship variant for Earth-to-Earth travel, capable of transporting 1,000 passengers at hypersonic speeds anywhere on Earth in under 1-hour! SpaceX will also develop a Cargo Starship configuration capable of deploying entire satellite constellations and even be used to pick up space debris with its unique design. The Cargo Starship will be designed to open its payload bay like a clamshell to release payload to space, or scoop space junk up. “[…] We can fly Starship around space & chomp up debris with the moving fairing door,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said earlier this week. A render of the clamshell-like cargo door is pictured below.
Image Source: SpaceX
This afternoon, Musk shared that a variant of Starship could even be transformed into a ‘giant telescope.’ He said that it is possible to use “… [Star]ship itself as structure for new giant telescope that’s >10X Hubble [Telescope] resolution,” he wrote in response to a Twitter user who asked if the company planned to incorporate space exploration instruments to the vehicle. Musk shared that the idea about using the Starship vehicle itself to develop a powerful telescope was mentioned during a conversation with Saul Perlmutter, an American astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. –“Was talking to Saul Perlmutter (who’s awesome) & he suggested wanting to do that,” Musk said.
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.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2021
Once Starship is operational, it will become the most powerful rocket in the world capable of carrying more payload mass to space destinations than any rocket in operation. If a Starship spacecraft is fitted with scientific instruments and a giant telescope more powerful than NASA’s Hubble Telescope, it would be capable of propelling itself close to far away planets and further than any space observatory has gone before. Starship would also be capable of providing enough power to beam data back to SpaceX’s Mission Control and researchers on Earth.
As we imagine all of Starship’s possibilities, SpaceX engineers continue to work on the vehicle’s development at Starbase in South Texas. The company targets to perform the first orbital flight attempt this Summer. Teams are working around-the-clock to finish building the massive launch tower that will support Starship when it lifts-off from Boca Chica Beach to orbit, then it will fly across our planet to land in the ocean off the northwest coast of Kauai, Hawaii. You can watch a Live broadcast of SpaceX’s Starship launch tower construction progress in the video below, courtesy of LabPadre via YouTube.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.