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When SpaceStarship lands Mars, the crew will be almost 50 meters above the surface. How will they get out with all their equipment?

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    $\begingroup$ The answers below are sourced, so they're good answers - but I wonder why apparently no one is considering exiting through the aft cargo doors next to the engines. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2019 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisB.Behrens: Because that would require either stowing away in the aft cargo bay, or having traveled through the O2 and CH4 tanks. $\endgroup$
    – dotancohen
    Oct 9, 2019 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, so just put a Jeffries tube in there! $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2019 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ By jumping out and landing on their helmets, of course! $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Oct 10, 2019 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ I am very intrigued by this subject, the crane does appear to be the leading candidate...at least at first! I would hope that after the first few cargo missions they would start building something similar to a grain elevator that could more rapidly offload and on-board cargo. The benefit of having the equipment on the ground would be 1. reduced launch weight from earth 2. no dependency on Starship energy 3. one to many reuse ability $\endgroup$
    – Kyle N.
    Mar 16, 2020 at 13:08

4 Answers 4

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SpaceX has implied that there will be a crew/cargo lift system similar to how skyscraper window washing platforms work (a crane swings the platform out from inside and lowers it to the ground):

enter image description here

SpaceX teased it at the end of this video from last year:

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    $\begingroup$ I think a lot of people have seen this image i.stack.imgur.com/ANEIv.jpg one way or another, which seems to be the thumbnail (or whatever it's called) for this year-old Primal Space video youtu.be/FYU-N2RWfso but I don't know the images origin. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ It is amazing that image assumes such a nice solid mars surface. $\endgroup$
    – zephyr0110
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:44
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The design hasn't been confirmed publicly by SpaceX yet, but probably some kind of elevator. One of the mockup drawings showed Starship having a stowed crane for offloading cargo, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume they could stick a flat platform with handrails on that.

Picture at 33s into the video:

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    $\begingroup$ I can indeed... $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ Looks excellent, thank you!! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ They still have quite some time to figure this out, and it's not exactly rocket science. (Literally.) $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2019 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, but crane science doesn't sound as sexy! $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ I added a screen shot in case the video is ever deleted. It's a private account, not SpaceX. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 10, 2019 at 4:24
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It would seem elementary to be able to move cargo out of the ship, but it is a technical problem of moving and storage. It occurred to me that besides having a modified gantry lift and automatic machinery as a main moving mechanism, there needs to be manual mechanics to be a backup system. Also, since gravity is so low perhaps a circular slide filled with air would do the trick, winding it's way down to the floor of the Mars surface. Passengers could help unload the cargo bay on top, while others on the ground receive the cargo. Furthermore, there also could be a useful cargo mover, circular, something like those used to move luggage in airports with chain links. It would have to be something simple, because everyone on such a long trip, with all of the hazards involved with their body, may not have the strength or the inclination to move cargo.

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Top of starship connects by multiple zip-lines to the habitats, far enough away to be unaffected by the blast off. Cable car (open basket) for cargo on stronger line. Longer lines have smaller slope. Battery powered motors, regenerated by descent. This solves ground transport as well.

Wind at altitude blows much dust off so not tracked inside. Zip lines could terminate beyond habs, or on mast that holds habs up, so commuters can use airlock on Hab's roof, and avoid toxic dust each way. Why walk on the stuff?

Later build redundant zip lines to each Hab (up & down). Zip lines also transmit electric power to Hab at first, ultimately from ground solar array to starship and all Habs connected to it.

Engineer zip lines to stabilize starship against wind storms.

Upon landing, first person on Mars rappels down then sets end of first cable at distance for others to ride. "That's one zip for a woman, one long zipper for men". After six months she can finally tell them to zip it.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Space! Is this an answer you made up, or is it supported by other sources? $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Apr 21, 2020 at 0:26

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