Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk to enable life on Mars. “The future of humanity is going to bifurcate in two directions: Either it’s going to become multi-planetary, or it’s going to remain confined to one planet and eventually there’s going to be an extinction event,” Musk said. "It appears that consciousness is a very rare and precious thing and we should take whatever steps we can to preserve the light of consciousness. Only now, after 4.5 billion years has that window been open. That’s a long time to wait and it might not stay open for long," he said in 2019. "I’m pretty optimistic by nature, but there’s some chance that window will not be open for long, and I think we should become a multi-planet civilization while that window is open.” Musk envisions a fleet of Starships embarking on voyages to the Red Planet. The first Starship with cargo is expected to launch in 2022, and the first crewed voyage until 2024.
Colonizing Mars will completely change the course of humanity’s future. To make this ambitious endeavor a reality, SpaceX is working on the development of a stainless-steel spacecraft-rocket duo called Starship. It will be capable of transporting 100 passengers and tons of cargo through space.
Musk also envisions a future where Starship can function for Earth-to-Earth transportation, like airplanes. Starship would be capable of transporting 1,000, and blast off a spaceport at sea, fly up 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) high through the atmosphere into the exosphere, where air resistance is minimal, it would circle the globe in a matter of minutes. For perspective, Starship would be traveling at a speed of “Mach 25” –the speed of an inter-continental ballistic missile, which is equivalent to 19,182 miles per hour! The passengers would arrive at any city across Earth in less than 1 hour! Flying from New York to Paris on a commercial airplane typically takes about 7 hours and 20 minutes, that same trip on board Starship would only take 30 minutes! Musk likened the Starship trip to a roller-coaster ride:
“Probably needs a restraint mechanism like Disney’s Space Mountain roller coaster. Would feel similar to Space Mountain in a lot of ways, but you’d exit on another continent.”
Starship is actively under development at a SpaceX South Texas facility located in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville, TX. It is a quiet village near the ocean and a small city. To leave Earth’s atmosphere, Starship will require a massive Super Heavy rocket, that will propel Starship with passengers to orbit, then land to be reused, like a Falcon 9 rocket. Musk shared today that the company will build floating spaceports at sea – “SpaceX is building floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon & hypersonic travel around Earth,” he shared via Twitter.
SpaceX is building floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon & hypersonic travel around Earth https://t.co/zLJjz43hKw— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 16, 2020
The first Starship spaceport will be built in the Gulf of Mexico along the Brownsville coastline, near the SpaceX facility at Boca Chica, pictured below. SpaceX is hiring 'Offshore Operations Engineers' in Brownsville. The job application reads – “Work as part of a team of engineers and technicians to design and build an operational offshore rocket launch facility.”
Photo Source: TESMANIAN.com
A Twitter user speculated if these spaceports will be refurbished oil platforms to which Musk confirmed - “pretty much.” The SpaceX Spaceports will be connected to a Hyperloop system that will transport people from land to the floating launchpad. Hyperloop is a futuristic super-fast underground tunnel transportation system, which was also conceptualized by Musk.
Pretty much— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 16, 2020
Musk also shared the first Starship Earth-to-Earth flights will be in a couple of years – “There will be many test flights before commercial passengers are carried. First Earth to Earth test flights might be in 2 or 3 years.” So, there is a chance we will experience Starship rides in our lifetime! The President of SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell said last year she expects a ticket to fly aboard Starship to an Earth-to-Earth destination will cost a little more than an economy class flight but cheaper than a first-class ticket.
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.