How to Build SpaceX’s Starship by@newsletters
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How to Build SpaceX’s Starship

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The Starship is a reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle (rocket) designed to travel to space with cargo and humans on board. According to SpaceX, “It is powered by sub-cooled methane and oxygen.” According to Elon Musk it’s simply ‘a dream come true.’ The intention for this vehicle is to travel to the Earth's Orbit, to the Moon, and to Mars.

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(Check out more jokes from the source here.)

All jokes aside, Mr. Musk has captured international media headlines once more by creating a vehicle that could be a game-changer for space travel.

The Starship is a reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle (rocket) designed to travel to space with cargo and humans on board.

According to SpaceX, “It is powered by sub-cooled methane and oxygen.” According to Elon Musk, it’s simply “a dream come true.”

But why is it such a big deal?

Building fully reusable rockets is extremely challenging and making this happen has been impossible until now (potentially).

[On August 6, 2021] the Starship was stacked on top of the Super Heavy booster and briefly became the tallest rocket ever built.

The intention for this vehicle is to travel to the Earth’s Orbit, to the Moon, and to Mars.

Administrative Efforts

One of the most important steps in a project of this size is to secure funding. According to CNBC, Elon Musk’s estimate for the ultimate cost of the Starship program is that it will cost $5 billion.

Funding for the Starship came from various investors, Elon Musk himself, as well as NASA. All that being said, funding is being secured as the project continues, and was not gathered all at once.

Another important element of making a project like this come to fruition is to make sure that you are allowed to actually make it happen.

This means it is necessary to act in accordance with the law. This is likely to involve lobbying the government on topics like the: Department of Defense Appropriations Act, United States Space Force Act, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act, Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act, and many more.

Currently, SpaceX is in limbo because it needs to obtain the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration before ‘being allowed’ to launch the rocket, and the FAA doesn’t have a ‘schedule for completing the final assessment.’

Gathering talent and finding the appropriate space to do the testing is also a requirement. This process includes securing launch pads in a variety of locations, as well as securing a ship(s) to catch the rocket.

Further to this, securing an adequate flow of materials from companies around the world is a challenge in and of itself.

These are barely scratching the surface.

Booster: Super Heavy

The Super Heavy booster is the bottom piece of the two-stage spacecraft.

It has multiple engines, massive grid diamond-shaped fins, and six landing legs. The rocket is 9 meters in diameter, and 70 meters tall, with a propellant capacity of 3400 tonnes.

The Super Heavy supports 29 Raptor engines and produces 72MN of thrust.

Interesting fact: Raptor engines are the first full-flow staged combustion rocket engine ever flown. It seems the company is literally blazing the trail again.

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Spaceship: Starship

The Starship is the top part of the two-stage spacecraft. It is 9 meters in diameter and 50 meters tall. Starship owes its notable power to three sea-level optimized Raptor engines and 3 vacuum-optimized Raptor engines.

This is the part of the ship that’s responsible for carrying passengers, long-duration cargo, traveling to other planets in the solar system, as well as re-entering the earth’s atmosphere to land on a specific launching pad. System features include on-orbit propellant loading, retro propulsion, and “body flaps.”

Thanks to its large compartment, Starship also allows for new, unprecedented missions.

Eventually, the Starship is projected to come in different versions, including Surface Cargo Starship, Orbital Cargo Starship, Tanker, Lunar‑surface‑to‑orbit transport, and Crewed Starship.

Materials and Testing

Initially, the Starship was planned to be made out of carbon fiber. Today, SpaceX switched to stainless steel, since it’s more cost-effective and easier to produce.

Usually, rocket designs go through many renditions and tests including low altitude prototypes, high altitude prototypes, and orbital launches. Testing can frequently include costly explosions and sometimes casualties.

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Conclusion

SpaceX was founded in 2002, and 19 years later continues to make history and move human progress forward. It is an example of a company whose vision and project management are changing the universe.

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Credit for the above piece goes to Ellen Stevens, Tatsiana Isakova, and Hang Ngo.

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