Recently Elon Musk tweeted this picture of the SpaceX prototype Starship, which they will use for VTOL. enter image description here

He said that steel is cheaper compared to carbon fiber and has high melting point etc, which are the reasons for his idea of using it. Did NASA or other space exploration companies ever use steel as the outer shell of a space craft?


Steel has been used, for example for the Atlas and Centaur, and for the Shuttle SRBs. Most rockets switched to aluminium because it's lighter and because the rocket was expendable and didn't need to survive reentry.

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    $\begingroup$ Strength per weight of a good aluminium alloy is better than that of steel. That is why they build airplanes with aluminium. Parts of the fuselage of the X-15 were heat-resistant nickel alloy (Inconel-X 750) $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jan 27 '19 at 21:16

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