68

It seems to me that the SpaceX Starship rockets have sort of a homemade quality to them, like they were made in someone's garage with basic tools That is because they are! The "zeroth" prototype, Starhopper was built from November 2018 to March 2019 literally in a dirt field in Texas, in the open air. When Elon Musk announced in December 2018 that ...


61

The purpose of Starship is not merely to put satellites into orbit for cheap. If that were its purpose then you'd be correct; it's way overbuilt for that. Starship wasn't created to put satellites into orbit though, it was created to construct a self-sustaining city on Mars. Achieving that goal will likely require lifting hundreds of megatons of mass to ...


57

There are many reasons. They include money, intellectual property, regulations, and Elon Musk. Money. Building open source software is relatively inexpensive, sometimes ridiculously inexpensive. No equipment is needed as most programmers have their own computers. There are many open source software projects where the developers do their work for free. ...


50

Starship alone is not capable of orbital flight, but it is capable of high suborbital flights sufficient for testing reentries. The booster's only use is as a first stage for Starship. It could only be put into use immediately if a Starship has been developed and built to stack on top of it. And it is expected to be much quicker and easier to develop than ...


49

Salt does all sorts of unpleasant things to just about every building material humans use. Hot salt spray, such as you'd get from a rocket launch, is even worse: spraying something with hot saltwater is one of the techniques used for corrosion testing. Build a launch pad over the ocean, and you'll need to clean it off after each launch to try to keep the ...


48

There is not enough air on Mars. You would need absolutely humongous wings. There is no air at all on the Moon. Surely SpaceX can find a quick and easy way to get Starship vertical and in position for the next launch. Starship is not structurally capable of being in a horizontal position. It will simply crumple and/or break in half. Could you remove an ...


47

There are several compelling engineering and design reasons why a bigger spaceship makes sense and several reasons why making a mini-starship does not make sense for SpaceX specifically (and their vision). First and foremost, Elon Musk has made it clear that his goal for the company and the future isn't to provide cheap satellite launch capabilities, it's ...


47

So there are probably several things about which you are referring. They mostly stem from the same issue, which is using Stainless Steel for the hull of the vehicle. This has benefits that other questions have addressed. Why switch Starship from composite to Stainless? First off, they do not paint it, since stainless does not really need paint (Though they ...


44

Musk is creating a Starship "production line", because obviously, he wants a lot of Starships. This aligns with the company's goal of "making humanity a multi-planetary species". As for "where is the market?": It doesn't exist yet. Currently, SpaceX's attitude towards space is "build it and they will come". Many large scale investment organizations ...


44

You're basically describing the Space Shuttle. The Space Shuttle wasn't even a good solution when it was designed. It had precisely one goal - to look like a plane for the image of the Air Force. As far as engineering goes, the Big Dumb Booster was already well proven, and is what every other solution to space has used. But in order to get Air Force ...


44

I wonder why nobody ever proposed a space launch system like Starship. What exactly do you mean by "like Starship"? Systems like Starship have been proposed before, although differing in the details, going back to Von Braun's mid-1950s Mars expedition concepts. Starship is ambitious in several ways, but it's more evolutionary than revolutionary. ...


41

Neither has much financial purpose without the other. A BFR cannot perform any useful function without an upper stage, and that is the BFS. Since the whole platform is a major investment in a new architecture, they are starting with the smaller piece - the BFS. Since it uses some of the same engines as the BFR, it can act as a testbed for both BFR and BFS ...


41

Fundamentally, it's because of economics. There simply wasn't any demand for a large rocket between today and the space race. Let's analyze what (I think) makes the Starship concept special: Size: Starship is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) rockets ever constructed. Reusability: One of Starship's core design goals is to be reusable comparable to ...


40

Sorry for the length of this, but it brings up some interesting facts and possibilities. The moons you mention, Titan, Europa, and Enceladus, are three very different places. Titan has a relatively large surface gravitational acceleration (as far as satellites go) and a very thick atmosphere; Europa has a relatively large surface gravitational acceleration ...


40

In my experience, I've noticed that SpaceX uses a lot of temporary components until such temporary components need to actually be tested. Since the legs of MK1, MK2, and most probably MK3 will never see uneven soils rather than concrete landing pads, they will most likely just have simple legs. After a few successes with MK3, we should start seeing much more ...


40

EDIT: Elon has revealed in multiple tweets (one, two, three, four) what went wrong, and although this doesn't tell us exactly what led to the explosion directly, it gives some insight to what went wrong. I will be updating this answer later... The proper answer to questions like, "What went wrong with SpaceX's [insert mission here]?" is: Unless ...


37

SpaceX plans to use autogenous pressurization for Starship. Autogenous pressurization means using the same consumable that is in the tank in its gaseous state to pressurize the tank. So, for the liquid methane tanks, you use gaseous methane for pressurization, etc. The landing failure of Starship SN8 was caused by low pressure in the methane header tank, ...


35

This is some unsourced conjecture, since much of this simply comes from public observations of operations in Texas by the countless fans. They are running Boca Chica like a prototype Starship assembly line -- multiple test vehicles are under construction at all times. They roll sheet steel into rings, form bulkheads, stack the rings, etc in a multi week ...


35

A lot of launch costs are independent of rocket size. It's no cheaper to clear the flight path for a smaller rocket, for example. It also takes a lot longer to do 10 launches instead of one large launch, and spaceflight is full of cases where you have limited launch opportunities. A larger vehicle will have higher throughput and lower costs per kg. Smaller ...


34

In the question you mention about why Falcon 9 uses four legs to land instead of three, there are multiple great answers. One of them by @David Hammen states that: "Another factor is that the Falcon has nine engines, one in the center and the other eight around it in an octagonal or square-like arrangement. The bottom part of the thruster reflects ...


34

Starship is a 9 meter wide vehicle. The first stage (Super Heavy) will be mounting 35 or 38 or some other number in that range of sea level engines. As you can imagine that will take at least three separate rings of engines. 6 in the center, then two more rings with the rest. The Starship is the same diameter as Super Heavy, and the inner ring will be ...


31

Elon Musk stated in a news conference after the Falcon Heavy launch that the BFS will be the focus because they think they understand designing booster rockets pretty well, and thus they decided to focus on the more difficult piece first. He answers this in response to a question that starts at 20 minutes 52 seconds here, and speaks specifically to starting ...


31

SpaceX is doing two things in Boca Chica: Prototyping Starship and Superheavy Prototyping the factory for building Starship and Superheavy The second one is probably even more important than the first one: SpaceX wants to build a thousand Starships. And they want to do this as cheap as possible. They also want at some point to be able to do it on Mars, ...


31

There are a few reasons: The most obvious but easier to overcome is that the Starship is new. They haven't had the time to perfect everything. For example, the Raptor engines use two separate turbopumps, one for liquid oxygen and one for methane. This improves efficiency but it makes the engines far more complex. The Raptor is the first engine of its kind to ...


30

F9 can enter engine first because it isn't returning from orbital speeds. While fast, it's a fraction of the speeds something returning from orbit (or further) comes in at. So the engines are out as an entry surface, you need more protection. One way to achieve this is Dragon-style: put a heat shield on the bottom, and engines in the sidewalls. Great for ...


30

Anyone know what the story is? The main driver for the large number of engines on the BFR first stage is the desire to use a common engine design (albeit with different optimized nozzles) for both the booster stage and the interplanetary spacecraft stage. Building and maintaining only one type of engine makes things more efficient, and is a strategy that ...


29

Elon Musk posted a tweet on this topic: The Raptors were well below max thrust or the ship would have blown through the altitude limit. As we hit min throttle point, an engine would shut off. The issue was that three Raptors at full thrust would have gone too high, too fast. They needed to control speed and altitude to stay inside their allowed flight ...


28

Despite SpaceX's high-tech reputation, SpaceX aren't where they are today because they made massive technological leaps or pushed the envelope of science--after all, just doing science doesn't earn money. SpaceX doesn't have some "secret sauce" of IP or some secret, hyper-advanced engine technology that makes their engines an order of magnitude ...


27

This has been answered before, but I chose not to just mark it a duplicate because there is one new reason for the header tank unique to Starship. In a Reddit AMA in 2017 where Elon Musk answered questions about the original ITS design, he answered a question about the header tanks: Those are the header tanks that contain the landing propellant. They are ...


27

It’s important to keep in mind what SpaceX is trying to achieve here and follow its logic. Their goal is to make humanity a multi-planet species and build a self sustaining city on Mars. And this is not just a sound bite as so many company goals are, this really is what SpaceX are about. To achieve this goal it must be practical, both in engineering and ...


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