Starship

Slides & animations from Starship 2019 update presentation by Elon Musk


SpaceX Starship

Starship & Super Heavy (previously known as Big Falcon Rocket, Interplanetary Transport System and Mars Colonial Transporter) is a fully reusable two-stage super heavy-lift launch vehicle and spacecraft currently developed by leading NewSpace company SpaceX. Starship will be capable to lift up to 150 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO) when fully reused. The Super Heavy booster stage will be used only to boost the Starship from Earth. This rocket will eventually replace all of SpaceX's launch vehicles (Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy) and spacecrafts (Dragon and Crew Dragon) currently in use.

On November 2018 Elon Musk announced "Big Falcon Rocket" (shortened as BFR) has been renamed to "Starship" for the spacecraft part and to "Super Heavy" for the booster part. Will see if the naming stands as it has been changed several times.

The main purpose of building such a large rocket is to enable the colonization of Mars but Starship will be capable to do a lot of different tasks – to place satellites or space stations in orbit, ferry passengers to space stations or the Moon and even ferry passengers or cargo between any destinations on Earth within an hour.

The rocket consists of two stages – the booster (aka "Super Heavy") and the spacecraft (aka "Starship"). Both stages will use methalox rocket engine called "Raptor". SpaceX chose methalox fuel for its next generation rocket engine not only because methane can be easily produced on Mars but also because it burns cleaner (allowing cheaper reusability) and don't require super-low temperature for storage as hydrogen does. Another novelty – while previously SpaceX intended to use carbon fiber for the body of Starship & Super Heavy, now the plan is to use 301 stainless steel polished to mirror-like level for better thermal protection and higher strength-to-weight ratios at both cryogenic and high temperatures.


Starship


SpaceX Starship
Starship (formerly known as Big Falcon Ship/Spaceship) is the 2nd stage of the rocket and will be made in three versions – crewed, cargo and tanker. Starship will be 9 meters in diameter and use 3 sea-level and 3 vacuum Raptor engines. It will have a pressurized volume of over 1000 m3 – more than the International Space Station.

Starship will have unique heat protection with only the windward side (receiving higher pressure from air molecules) of the ship having heat shield of hexagonal ceramic tiles; the leeward side will be protected by ship's shiny stainless steel body itself, mirroring away most of the heat. This design decision will (hopefully) provide to Starship a lightweight, robust and cheaply reusable protection from entry heat even coming in at interplanetary speeds.

Starship, having 6 landing legs, 2 rear and 2 smaller forward actuated fins, is designed to be able retropropulsively land anywhere in the Solar system, including Earth, the Moon and Mars. It's also the first spacecraft designed to be able to support and land large quantity of cargo and passengers on other planetary bodies. To do so it will require on-orbit refueling by one or more Starship tankers depending on the destination and cargo.

Starting Starship's active test program in early 2019 SpaceX built the first prototype test vehicle (Starhopper) at its Boca Chica launch facility in South Texas, mated it with a single Raptor engine and conducted several hop tests. Starhopper lifted up for about 150 meters in its last test on August 27, 2019 and was retired. Now SpaceX is building several next generation test vehicles for high-altitude hops, suborbital & orbital flights at two separate locations simultaneously – Starship Mk 1/3 in Boca Chica and Starship Mk 2/4 in Cocoa, Florida. On November 20, 2019 Mk 1 suffered an explosion during a pressure test and it was decided not to fly it, moving to Mk 3 instead.

SpaceX is hoping to make first orbital flight of the full rocket system (with Super Heavy boosting the Starship) by the end of 2020, perform first flight around the Moon in 2023 and land first humans on Mars in 2025. We are predicting the later two milestones will happen several years later – in 2025 and 2031 respectively because developing a human-rated spacecraft is a lot harder task than building "just" a cargo rocket, as the example of Crew Dragon teaches us.

Super Heavy


SpaceX Super Heavy booster
Super Heavy (formerly known as Big Falcon Booster) is the 1st stage of the rocket, will be 9 meters in diameter and use up to 37 Raptor engines. It will have more thrust than any rocket in human history – more than all the stages of Saturn V combined. It will be used only to boost the Starship from the surface of Earth because of its deep gravity well; from other possible destinations, as Mars or the Moon, Starship will be capable to lift off by itself.

After boosting the Starship (in its crewed, cargo or tanker version) Super Heavy will retropropulsively land back on a landing pad near its launch mount (similar as some of Falcon 9 & Falcon Heavy boosters do). It will have 6 fixed landing legs.

Iterations of Starship & Super Heavy:


Official and fan-made art of Starship & Super Heavy:


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