What Elon Musk Did and Didn't Say About SpaceX's Starship Rocket

On an outdoor stage in South Texas between neat computer-animated screens and a gigantic glowing rocket behind him, Elon Musk gave his l...


On an outdoor stage in South Texas between neat computer-animated screens and a gigantic glowing rocket behind him, Elon Musk gave his latest update on his dreams of sending people to Mars on Thursday. evening.

But while Mr Musk’s presentation was lively in detailing his vision for humanity’s interplanetary future, he was more circumspect about the operational details of the huge SpaceX Rocket Spaceship which is central to these and other goals. The spacecraft must overcome numerous technical and regulatory hurdles before it can fly into orbit or complete a multi-billion dollar contract to land NASA astronauts on the moon, let alone colonize the Red Planet.

But on stage Thursday night, Mr Musk said he believed Starship would be able to establish a self-sustaining city on Mars, which he said would require bringing a million tonnes of material there from Earth.

“This is the first point in Earth’s 4.5 billion year history where this has been possible,” Musk said. “We have to seize the opportunity and do it as quickly as possible. I want to be frank: civilization feels a bit fragile these days.

After an animated video of an imaginary Mars colony being serviced by SpaceX vehicles, Mr. Musk shouted, “Let’s make it real!

For several years, SpaceX has been working on Starship, which would be the most powerful rocket ever. It would also, unlike all previous rockets, be fully reusable. It has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of sending payloads into orbit — less than $10 million to get 100 tons into space — and it could be possible within a few years, Musk said.

Over the past few years, SpaceX has carried out a series of test flights of the upper part of the spacecraft that must go into orbit and then return, showing how it could flop into the atmosphere and then land. One of the flights, in May 2021, was a success while the others ended in explosions. Reaching orbit requires the use of an even larger booster stage, known as Super Heavy, with dozens of engines. This has not yet been tested.

However, Mr. Musk has regularly made far too optimistic calendar forecasts. When he first talked about his Mars rocket in 2016 — then an even bigger design — he said the first test trip to Mars, with no one on board, would launch in 2022, and the first people to Mars would depart two years later.

When Mr. Musk gave an update in September 2019he predicted that the first orbital flight would take place within six months.

But with 2022 already here, SpaceX has yet to attempt an orbital Starship launch.

In Thursday’s interview, he expressed confidence that it would happen this year, but was vague on specifics.

His speech, at the site SpaceX calls Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, near Brownsville, was mixed with a variety of bawdy remarks while largely rehashing the vision he’s described in the past, including his arguments for why humanity needed to expand beyond Earth, as a backup plan for humanity’s survival.

He also responded to critics who say space is a waste of time and money, noting how much of the federal budget is actually spent on spaceflight and exploration.

“I’m just suggesting that maybe we’d like half a percent or something like that, like that would probably be OK,” Musk said, referring to space budgeting.

He added technical details about the company’s improvements to the next version of the engines used for Starship. “So the only remaining problem that we are aware of is the melting of the chamber,” Musk said, describing the intense heat generated by the engine. “It’s very hard not to melt the chamber,” Musk continued. “It’s sort of the last remaining challenge. But I think we are very close to solving this problem.

He hoped that an environmental review by the Federal Aviation Administration would soon give SpaceX the green light to attempt a launch into orbit from Boca Chica. “We’ve gotten kind of a rough indication that there might be an approval in March,” Musk said.

If that happened, an orbital launch attempt could take place in “a few months” or potentially in May, he said.

But he also conceded that if the FAA decided a more comprehensive environmental review was needed, SpaceX would move the launches to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which would result in a six-to-eight-month delay to modify the launch ramp there. launch for the huge spaceship.

In addition to eventual trips to Mars, Starship is to be used by NASA to ferry astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface. The company won a $2.9 billion contract for the mission, outperform other bidders that included Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and defense contractor Dynetics. the the moon landing is planned, on paper, for 2025, but it is expected to be delayed. In addition to working on Starship, returning astronauts to the moon requires the Space Launch System, another large rocket under development by NASA which is also late.

For the lunar mission, SpaceX should also be able to fill the propellant tanks of a spacecraft orbiting Earth. Mr Musk said a series of Starship tankers would be launched every few hours taking propellant for the rocket destined for the moon.

Mr. Musk said he saw no conflict between NASA’s work and his biggest dreams.

“We’re going to make a lot of ships, a lot of boosters,” he said. “Adding legs to land on the moon can be done quite quickly.”

And Mr. Musk remained confident that his giant rocket would work. Although there would most likely be bumps in the road along the way, he said, “we’ll get there.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: What Elon Musk Did and Didn't Say About SpaceX's Starship Rocket
What Elon Musk Did and Didn't Say About SpaceX's Starship Rocket
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