Featured Image Source: Tesmanian.com/Evelyn J. Arevalo
SpaceX’s next-generation launch vehicle will revolutionize space exploration. Engineers are working to develop a fully-reusable Starship capable of propelling around 150 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This would make the Starship rocket a bit more powerful than NASA's retired Saturn V rocket that launched astronauts to the Moon during the Apollo missions, which was capable of lifting approximately 130 tons to orbit. "Over time, we might get orbital payload up to ~150 tons with full reusabi[li]ty. If Starship then launched as an expendable, payload would be ~250 tons. What isn’t obvious from this chart is that Starship/Super Heavy is much denser than Saturn V," SpaceX founder Chief Engineer Elon Musk said via Twitter in response to a graphic that compares multiple launch vehicles, shown below.
Over time, we might get orbital payload up to ~150 tons with full reusabity. If Starship then launched as an expendable, payload would be ~250 tons. What isn’t obvious from this chart is that Starship/Super Heavy is much denser than Saturn V.
On Monday, November 8, Musk said that SpaceX "Starship fleet is designed to achieve over 1,000 times more payload to orbit than all other rockets on Earth combined," he wrote in response to a graph that said China has deployed more payload to orbit during Q3 [third quarter] this year compared to other aerospace companies. Musk said that "almost no one understands" the future Starship launch system’s payload capabilities. The graph was compiled by Bryce Space Tech, it states the payload to orbit in kilograms (kg) for multiple aerospace companies, the leaders are China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and SpaceX. China has deployed around 49 tons (45,010 kg) and that SpaceX deployed around 36 tons (32,634 kg) with the Falcon 9 rocket fleet during Q3 this year. "Actually, 41 tons for SpaceX in Q3 & aiming for 80 tons in Q4. That said, China launch mass to orbit is extremely impressive," Musk said in response to the graph. SpaceX had the lead in payload mass launched in Q2 this year, with around 136 tons (124,000 kg) deployed atop its Falcon 9 fleet. "Upmass is what matters. One Starship will lift what all Falcons did in Q2 on a single flight," Musk said back in July.
Actually, 41 tons for SpaceX in Q3 & aiming for 80 tons in Q4. That said, China launch mass to orbit is extremely impressive.
Ultimately, Starship and the Super Heavy rocket will replace SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. The company aims to manufacture a fleet of at least 1,000 reusable Starships over the course of the next 20 years, each capable of launching at least one hundred tons of cargo and/or 100 passengers to space destinations, including the Moon and Mars. Musk hopes to enable humanity to create a second home on the Red Planet. “Megatons per year to orbit are needed for life to become multiplanetary,” Musk previously said. “Building 100 Starships per year gets to 1,000 in 10 years or 100 megatons per year, or maybe around 100k people per Earth-Mars orbital sync. Starship design goal is 3 flights per day average rate, so ~1000 flights per year at >100 tons per flight, so every 10 ships yield 1 megaton per year to orbit,” Musk explained in a series of Tweets last year. At this rate, humanity would be able to extend life to the Red Planet and have the first sustainable Martian settlement by the year 2050. The powerful Super Heavy rocket and Starship spacecraft are under development at the company’s Starbase facility located in the southernmost tip of Texas at Boca Chica Village, where gigantic stainless-steel vehicles are undergoing manufacturing and testing. SpaceX is currently preparing to conduct the first orbital Starship flight test.
Featured Image Source: Tesmanian.com / photo by Evelyn J. Arevalo @JaneidyEve
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.