SpaceX Starship Development at Boca Chica Texas
November 2, 2019
Photo Source: SpaceX
SpaceX's goal is to take humans back to the Moon and build a colony on Mars, they're building Starship to complete the missions. Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa is funding Starship's development. The final version of this spacecraft will launch Maezawa with a group of artists, from painters to singers, on a trip around the Moon by the year 2023, the mission is called Dear Moon.
"Conciousness is a rare and precious thing, we should take whatever steps we can to preserve the light of consciousness...We should do our very best to become a multi-planet species, extend consciousness beyond Earth and we should do it now." -Elon Musk
Starship Hopper and Starship Mk1, are one of the first prototypes built in Boca Chica Beach, Texas. Starship Hopper (a.k.a Starhopper) is a scaled down version of the craft meant to test the power of 1 Raptor Engine. SpaceX conducted several 'hop' tests and had a successful 150 meter launch on August 27, 2019.
Starship Mk1, will be the first fully assembled prototype of Starship to be tested with 3 Raptor engines. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, unveiled Starship's new design during a presentation last month. Mk1 is made of stainless-steel, which is heat resistant and very durable. The switch to stainless steel from the expensive, lightweight carbon fiber composite material, that other rockets are made with -is that the steel gets stronger the colder it gets, making it ideal for flights in the cold depths of space. It also has a higher melting point, making it more resilient during the hot reentry burn through Earth's atmosphere. It's also cheaper, about 2% the cost of carbon fiber, "Steel was the best design decision on this whole thing," Musk said.
Photo Source: Elon Musk
The design includes large fins. Two fins are steerable, whereas a smaller "leeward 'fin'" would be added that would "simply be used as a leg" and not be steerable. Musk said that stability during takeoff and landing would be controlled by the rapid movement of rear and forward fins, as well as the Starship's Attitude Control System (ACS) thrusters.
Six. Two windward, one under each fin & two leeward. Provides redundancy for landing on unimproved surfaces.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 26, 2019
This Mk1 prototype of Starship will only have 3 Raptors during the tests but the final version of Starship will have 6 Raptors. The Super Heavy rocket will have 6 landing legs and the number of engines could vary from flight to flight. Musk said the rocket has space for up to 37 Raptor engines and each mission will probably require at least 24.
The final version of Starship and its Super Heavy rocket booster will have a height of 118 meters, a diameter of 9 meters, and be completely reusable. It will be able to carry up to 100 people and tons of cargo.
Photo Source: Twitter/@SpacePadreIsle
Starship Mk1 was moved from the assembly location at Boca Chica to the launch pad, a few miles down the road, on Wednesday, October 30, 2019. Ahead of its upcoming test flight. Musk, said Mk1 first test flight will be 20km. The exact launch date is still pending. Several roadblock notices in Boca Chica's Cameron County website, have been filed for November. During this time, Starship Mk1 will be re-assembled at the launch pad and undergo several weeks of preparations, which include the installation of the 3 Raptor engines. Then, Mk1 would have to go through pressurization testing, in which this new craft will be filled with liquid oxygen and liquid methane for the first time, then static fire tests. Depending on how everything goes, we will find out the test launch date of the first fully assembled Starship prototype in the upcoming month.
SpaceX does have ambitious plans to start flying aboard the vehicle in the next year or so, we should expect to see the work pace to increase. "This is going to sound totally nuts but I think we want to try to reach orbit in less than six months... Provided the rate of design improvement and manufacturing improvement continues to be exponential, I think that is accurate to within a few months." Musk said.
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.