We've seen plenty of renders of the Starship with smooth, flawless stainless steel skin

starship render, smooth skin And we are well familiar now with the look of the Starship prototypes. Starship prototype with visible welds and skin crinkles

Given what we know about the manufacture of these spacecraft, can we ever expect the Starship to look like the renders, with its smooth single-piece weldless surface, or can we expect the final spacecraft to look more similar to the prototypes, with their slightly wrinkled surface and visible welds?

  • $\begingroup$ The image is of Mk1, and SN8 looks a lot different. Worse actually. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 23:52

1 Answer 1


They have a tool called a planisher that is being used to smooth the weld joints. Just recently saw a post comparing welds before and after the planisher, did not save the links alas.

The welds are a weak point, since they get heated more than the surrounding metal and this metal is cryoformed. (In fact they actually do the pressure test with cryo Nitrogen to restore some of the materials strength).

The planisher tries to smooth down the welds and keep it smoother and stronger.

But no, since it is made of rings, you will probably always be able to see the ring lines at a minimum.

More interesting is that the stringers welded into various sections have tack marks on the outside that are likely not to go away.

You can however see differences in the fairing section versus the tank sections. Much cleaner on the fairing section.

  • $\begingroup$ How about the "wrinkles"? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ You can see when they pressurize it, that SOME of the wrinkles flatten out. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 0:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.