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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 ...


34

In the defense of NASA, SpaceX does not per se have an operational vehicle for the purposes they want to use SLS. (Yet, Starship is coming) However, missions to the moon using Falcon Heavy vehicles have been proposed by Bob Zubrin. Once SpaceX has an actual flying Starship/Super Heavy I think the situation will change. Ultimately the SLS program is ...


27

Payloads are attached to (expendable or vertical landing) vertical take off vehicles at the ends where they touch. Given satellites weigh several tonnes, and are several meters in length horizontal integration puts a lot of torque on that connection, and to lesser degrees on other parts of the spacecraft structure. Reinforcing the spacecraft to withstand ...


26

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 ...


24

Because there are no super heavy-lift launch vehicles flying right now. In fact, simply by existing, SLS will be the most up-to-date and the most efficient super heavy-lift launch vehicle since the Saturn V (Shuttle is debatable). Super heavy-lift launch vehicle, Proposed designs When looking at current SpaceX rockets, the Falcon Heavy are human certified. ...


19

Bob Zubrin, of Mars Direct fame, has been critical of the SpaceX Mars plan. He suggests that it makes no sense to send a full Starship too Mars, instead use it to launch the Mars vehicle and just use Starship to bring payload and fuel. Most of the concern revolves around the fact each Starship sent to Mars is committed for almost two years. In normal ...


12

SLS has been in development for a long time, although it suffers from political winds quite a bit. It started in its current form in 2011, when there was no other system in existence that even was close. Falcon Heavy was a concept then, but it would have only been slightly better than Delta IV Heavy, still nothing compared to SLS. They considered other ...


12

I didn't dig too hard for sources because this is probably a very minor expansion on top of the other answers, but WHICH payloads might require vertical integration? Ones with big stinking mirrors inside like spy satellites and space telescopes. This reddit post lays out some rationale: This is mostly telescopes like Hubble. They have a very delicate ...


7

For the shuttle program, the water was not recovered. The water that was not vaporized ran through concrete channels and was collected in two holding ponds. (NASA photo, annotations mine). The water was later pumped out and allowed to soak into the sandy soil. The discharge of deluge and firex water (during the launch of each Space Shuttle) resulted ...


7

Something of a guess but it sounds plausible: Satellite propulsion systems that use surface tension devices to separate the pressurant gas from the propellant may have some orientation constraints to prevent gas bubbles being trapped in the surface tension device (aka propellant management device, PMD). There are several types of PMD, some are rather ...


7

Read the whole article: Most importantly, the tower would allow SpaceX technicians to crane certain US military payloads – encapsulated inside a Falcon payload fairing – onto the top of the rocket. At the end of the day, that’s really the only reason SpaceX needs such a tower – certain customers (the US military and, to a lesser extent, NASA) have ...


6

To those who want more specificity. Pictures are borrowed from post from geoffc. Elon Musk: There’s a puck at the base that takes the engine thrust load. In the photo below the three engines are mounted at the green circles. The thrust puck distributes the thrust from the engines to the larger structure. The entire structure circled in red is the "...


4

The original set of build sites are all near water or ports: Boca Chica, Texas Cocoa Beach, Florida Port of LA, California (started, stopped, restarted) For short distance moves, at the Texas site, they are currently being moved on Roll Lift transports brought in for the move as needed. The plan in Florida was to Roll Lift it to the waterway, across a ...


3

Yes. The March 16, 2020 paper in arXiv First observations and magnitude measurement of SpaceX's Darksat found that Darksat reflects 55% less light compared to a regular Starlink satellite. It has an estimated magnitude of 6.21 compared to the estimated magnitude of 5.33 for a regular Starlink satellite. Aims. Measure the Sloan g’ magnitudes of the SpaceX ...


2

Possible answer: Another answer not yet explicitly listed could be: to limit the loss of-/build/maintain/expand their independence on other parties when it comes to launch technology (usage). For example, an agency might account for uncertainties in the availability of the technology provided by other parties, or contracts might be such that it becomes ...


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