Thanks to important technological progress, the currently developed rockets are ever more powerful and can be reused a great number of times. It is the case of the Starship, a rocket developed by the SpaceX company, founded by the well-known Elon Musk. This rocket, reusable in its totality, will considerably reduce the prices of space travel, as well as manned missions to the Moon, or even Mars.
The different parts of the rocket
Starship is an orbital class rocket developed by SpaceX. It will be the most powerful rocket ever built, the first in being totally reusable, and it will be capable to carry out missions in any type of orbit, as well as allowing interplanetary trips.
This rocket has a height of about 120 meters, a diameter of 9 metres, and it has the capacity to carry more than 100 tonnes to Earth orbit. In comparison, the Saturn V, the rocket that took the first men to the Moon, had a height of 111 meters. It is propelled by 28 Raptor motors. These are motors developed by SpaceX and that have suffered lots of modifications through the years. Combing all of them, the 28 motors generate a thrust of 73.500 kN (kilonewtons) at sea level.
Despite being enormously high, the Starship is only composed of two stages. The first, named “Super Heavy”, is responsible for generating the most thrust, and raising the spacecraft from the land. It is a height of 69 meters and can contain 3.400 tonnes of fuel.
The second stage (also propelled by Raptor motors), is the place where the cargo and the crew from the mission will be situated. As the entire rocket, this second stage is also named Starship. From the 50 metres in height, only 18 are assigned to transport the cargo and the crew.
Uses of the Starship
- The spacecraft is designed to send satellites to farther away orbits, and at a much lower cost. Thanks to its bigger cargo capacity than any other rocket in operation or development, Starship creates new opportunities for new spatial missions, including putting in orbit spatial telescopes even bigger than the James Webb. The rocket will also be able to carry cargo and persons to the International Space Station (ISS).
- Another important use that will be given to Starship is the transportation of the necessary materials and equipment for setting up a lunar base. In fact, NASA signed a contract with SpaceX so that the rocket used in the Artemis mission, which consists in taking humans, and the first woman back to the Moon, will be the Starship. If everything goes as planned, the mission is expected to take place in 2024.
- Apart from being capable of going to the Moon, the rocket will be able to carry out interplanetary trips. Indeed, one of the principal goals of the spacecraft is to build a human colony on Mars. The completely reusable system of the rocket, added to its high cargo capacity, will considerably reduce the costs of space travel, which will allow for creating a Martian colony more easily.
A small step towards space tourism
In 2023 is planned a Starship mission to take the Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and the crew of dearMoon on a lunar trip. During the week-long journey, the passengers will make a fly-by of the lunar surface. In this way, Maezawa and the crew of dearMoon will convert the first civilians in making a fly-by of the lunar surface.
This is a very important step in the domain of space travel, which will permit a significant part of the world population, in some years, to travel to space.