18 October, 22, 12:15 pm
GAME OVER! Why Starship Is The Best Spacecraft Ever Made!
Ever wonder how SpaceX builds their Starship rockets? Today we uncover what's inside SpaceX's Starship and what we can expect in future versions. Recently, Elon Musk has been testing a pioneering vessel, simply named Starship. The craft is set to be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle and is being developed at a super-fast speed, with thirteen prototypes and eight launches completed so far to varying degrees of success. The most recent of these was on March 30th, 2021, where SpaceX launched its fourth high-altitude flight test of Starship from its Texas base. The purpose of these tests is to gain a greater understanding of how to build a transport ship that’s fully reusable, in order to carry the crew and cargo necessary for the 140 million miles interplanetary voyage to Mars. There’s still a long way to go, given that the Starship keeps exploding. Three prototypes have exploded so far during testing, namely the SN8, SN9, and SN10 versions; but don’t worry, it’s all part of the SpaceX testing philosophy of “test, fly, fail, fix, repeat”.
Reusability is key to Starship’s design, meaning (despite current issues) it has to be able to land safely. SpaceX has already had some success with its similar two-stage rocket, Falcon 9, which is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket. Unlike Falcon 9, however, Starship is much larger at 120 meters tall and 9 meters in diameter, meaning the same vertical landing technique just isn’t feasible. Instead, the way Starship handles re-entry and landing is by extending flaps on the side of its hull to create drag and slow the descent using Earth’s atmosphere. To make this work, SpaceX has installed Tesla battery packs attached to adapted car engines from the Model 3 supercar inside the nose cone — these operate the actuators that extend the flaps.
Starship isn’t just about going to Mars. SpaceX envisions a number of other possible uses for the shuttle, including delivering satellites further and at a lower cost per launch than its current range of Falcon rockets. The scale of Starship means that large payloads are more than possible, and telescopes bigger than James Webb (that’s the successor to the Hubble) could be sent into orbit.
Before conducting missions to Mars, SpaceX has its eyes on a more achievable goal. In 2023, Starship will conduct the first-ever civilian flight to the moon. The weeklong journey will be an important step forward for space tourism and the possibilities of the Mars mission.