On Thursday, February 10, SpaceX founder Elon Musk gave an inspiring Starship update presentation at the Starbase facility located in Boca Chica Beach, Cameron County, Texas. The company’s chief engineer stood on a stage in front of a shiny fully-stacked Starship, that consists of a 69-meter-high Super Heavy rocket and the 50-meter-tall spacecraft. A TESMANIAN correspondent had the opportunity to attend the presentation and was amazed to see the stainless-steel vehicle’s massive scale. The presentation had around 300 attendees, the majority were SpaceX employees who listened to Chief Engineer Musk talk about the spacecraft's development progress in front of the world through a live broadcast.
The 119-meter-high rocket-ship is taller than the U.S. Statue of Liberty. Seeing it up close is awe-inspiring, it really makes you believe that civilian space travel en masse will be possible in our lifetime. Musk envisions a future where humanity lives in a spacefaring civilization that is capable of building a city on Mars, exploring the Solar System, and beyond. “Life can’t just be about solving problems, it has to be about things that inspire you… that move your heart. That when you wake up in the morning, you’re excited about the future,” Musk said on Thursday night. He started the presentation by thanking SpaceX employees and Cameron County residents who have welcomed SpaceX operations. The Cameron County region includes Boca Chica Village, Brownsville, South Padre Island, and neighboring cities collectively known locally as the Rio Grande Valley (RGV). The aerospace company has attracted a significant amount of tourists and also inspired local students to dream about becoming astronauts. SpaceX frequently provides RGV students tours of the Starbase rocket factory to encourage STEM education.
Source: Tesmanian.com / Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
During the presentation, Musk highlighted the importance of the Starship launch system and what SpaceX teams are doing to change the course of humanity’s future. –“For those who really care about not just the humans but all the life on Earth it is very important, essential that over the long-term… we become a multi-planet species, and ultimately even go beyond the solar system and bring life with us,” said Musk, in reference to all lifeforms on Earth. “You know we are life stewards, life’s guardians, […] the creatures that we love, they can’t build spaceships, but we can and we can bring them with us and I think that’s pretty important for those that that care about the environment and care about all the creatures on Earth.” The spacecraft could one day become a modern-day “Noah’s Ark” that could help preserve life on other solid worlds if some catastrophic extinction level event were to happen on our home planet. SpaceX is working around-the-clock to develop a fully-reusable Starship/Super Heavy in order to make life multiplanetary. The launch system is destined to become the most powerful vehicle ever developed.
Musk shared that the 400-foot-tall launch tower is the most critical structure to successfully launching and landing Starship/Super Heavy, as well as the surrounding Orbital Tank Farm; collectively referred as 'Stage Zero'. The tower is equipped with robotic arms that are designed to stack and catch the stainless-steel vehicles. He said it took SpaceX Starbase teams only 13 months to design and build. “I really want to emphasize that the whole launch system is equally as complex and difficult as either the booster or the ship,” he said.
The launch tower at Starbase will help stack Starship and catch the Super Heavy rocket booster pic.twitter.com/xXmonamEDA— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 11, 2022
SpaceX is currently preparing to perform the first Starship orbital flight test attempt that is planned for this year. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is conducting an environmental assessment of the Boca Chica launch site to ensure safe spaceflight operations. He anticipates that, with FAA approval, Starship will reach orbit soon. “We need to make it work, so it doesn’t work yet. It will work — might be a few bumps along the road but it will work. At this point, I feel highly confident well get to orbit this year,” he said. “We don’t have a ton of insight into where things stand with the FAA,” he said. “We have gotten sort of a rough indication that there may be an approval in March, but that’s all we know.” The FAA said it would complete the environmental assessment by February 28. “I think objectively this is not something that will be harmful to the environment. We’ve obviously flown the ship several times, and done multiple landings, takeoffs and landings, we fired the engines a lot,” Musk said. “I think the reality is it would not have a significant impact.”
He also mentioned that if the FAA decides to do a more in depth environmental assessment of the Starbase launch site, known as Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the orbital Starship flight test would get significantly delayed and the company’s spacecraft development efforts would shift to a new facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida, near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). “[...] That doesn’t mean things don’t get delayed from a regulatory standpoint,” Musk said. “We do have the alternative of the Cape and we actually applied for environmental approval from launching from the Cape a few years ago and received it. So we actually are approved from an environmental standpoint to launch from 39-A. So I guess our worst-case scenario is that we would be delayed for six to eight months to build up the Cape launch tower and launch from there.”
Musk said that Starbase will primarily serve to develop improved Starships and launch payload to orbit and the first crewed missions would lift off from Cape Canaveral where there is already facilities to support human spaceflight. Long-term, SpaceX plans to use refurbished oil rigs that will be converted into sea-going Super Heavy-class spaceports, capable of sailing everywhere around the planet. At the event, SpaceX played a video animation of how it plans to use the launch system, linked below.
• @elonmusk It made me tear up when I watched SpaceX’s video depiction about the future it aims to create on a screen in front of Super Heavy Starship, that giant stainless-steel vehicle will one day change humanity’s future forever... pic.twitter.com/xgT9KLzgSm— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) February 11, 2022
A fully and rapidly reusable launch vehicle is key to a future in which humanity is out exploring the starshttps://t.co/HJJLlJONoq— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 11, 2022
Before launching humans, SpaceX plans to conduct dozens of Starship missions to deliver Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit to expand broadband internet coverage globally, as well as rapidly improve the Starship launch system. The company is on a tight schedule to achieve developing a safe Starship to assist NASA in getting humans back on the moon by 2025. And begin selling space tours to continue to fund the creation of the Starship fleet to build ‘Mars Base Alpha.’ The first Starship space tour will be a journey around the Moon funded by Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa who’s taking along several artists. “There are a lot of additional customers that would use Starship. I don’t want to steal their thunder,” Musk said. “There will probably be a few bumps in the road but we’ll want to iron those out with satellite missions and test missions, and get to a high flight rate and then have something that’s extremely reliable for human spaceflight,” he said during the presentation.
Source: SpaceX Raptor Engines
He also discussed some interesting specs about Starship’s Raptors. SpaceX engineers have improved the methane-fueled engines efficiency and design – “More power, less parts.” The Raptor V1 has a very apparent complex plumbing and wiring system and the advanced Raptor V2 has less apparent plumbing on its exterior. Musk said that they are working to continue improving the Raptor’s performance because the biggest issue for Raptor V2 is the melting of the combustion chamber, engineers aim to operate the engine at 330 bar. The temperature in the chamber increases when pressure increases –“That thing really wants to melt!” said Musk. He shared that SpaceX has achieved increasing the rate of production rate of their Raptor V2 engine, which is important to rapidly advance the launch vehicles development. The company expects to have at least five more Raptors produced next week and by March, Musk believes SpaceX will be able to manufacture at least one Raptor V2 per day. Building these complex engines fast is crucial, long-term, fast production rate will enable frequent spaceflight to become multiplanetary. You can watch SpaceX’s full presentation in the video linked below.
SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk Starship 2022 Update
The future lies in the stars... pic.twitter.com/c6n5JAGiVw— Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo (@JaneidyEve) February 12, 2022
Featured Image Source: Tesmanian.com / Evelyn J. Arevalo
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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.