SpaceX confirms plans to begin testing its orbital-class 'Starship'

Polycount

Posts: 2,516   +549
Staff member

Starship, for the unaware, is quite an ambitious project. In the future, SpaceX plans to use Starship to transport satellites, goods, and even people throughout Low Earth Orbit and to the International Space Station. Some day, CEO Elon Musk & co. may use similar ships to transport humans to Mars.

The upcoming flight tests, which were recently discovered by Business Insider via a SpaceX FCC filing, could kick off sometime in early-to-mid October.

During the test flights, Starship will launch roughly 12.5 miles into the air before settling down for a landing. If all goes well, further, more strenuous tests will likely be conducted, and Starship will be well on the way to performing its first commercial flights in the next few years.

Until that time, though, SpaceX has a lot of ground to cover. Unexpected problems are common in the space industry, and SpaceX will want to ensure its latest spacecrafts are as stable as they can possibly be before the company begins ferrying precious cargo (including humans) to and from Earth.

That's where test flights come in -- even if they fail in some way (preferably in non-explosive fashion), the company's engineers still learn valuable information about a given craft's limits and capabilities. Any flaws discovered during a launch failure can then be tweaked for the next test.

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JaredTheDragon

Posts: 681   +433
"Let's name a battery-powered car after a guy who didn't need them!"

"Let's name a crappy LEO shuttle a STARSHIP too!"

Amazing that people fall for this nonsense. Well, it would be, except those kind of people are the rule, not the exception.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,395   +5,832
Sooooo ..... is this one considered a disposable unit or do they hope to return it to earth and land it like their boosters? Just curious because a returning spacecraft would have to carry significantly more fuel for braking unless they intend to use heat proof tiles like the shuttle. There are quite a few more questions that need to be answered but despite not personally liking Musk, his Space-X team is making accomplishments and as long as he keeps his nose out of the space business and doesn't try to run it like the car business, they should continue to be successful.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,328   +3,157
If we had continued with the Mercury program instead of giving Lockheed money for the wasteful STS, we’d have been to Mars already.

It’s really sad: they actually thought we’d be on Mars before the 90’s.
 
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GeforcerFX

Posts: 956   +442
Sooooo ..... is this one considered a disposable unit or do they hope to return it to earth and land it like their boosters? Just curious because a returning spacecraft would have to carry significantly more fuel for braking unless they intend to use heat proof tiles like the shuttle. There are quite a few more questions that need to be answered but despite not personally liking Musk, his Space-X team is making accomplishments and as long as he keeps his nose out of the space business and doesn't try to run it like the car business, they should continue to be successful.
Starships is basically a reusable second stage and crew capsule(like the shuttle was), the first stage will be super heavy, it will launch and land like a falcon 9 does and is basically just a larger version of a falcon 9 with more engines and they will be methane burning Raptor engines versus the kerosene burning merlins that the falcons use. Starship will have a group of it's own Raptor engines to put the vehicle into LEO or lunar injection (and eventually once refueled in LEO it could go on to mars) and those engines and the left over fuel will be used to land vertically like the falcons and the superheavy will. Yes they are using tiles again, but they are very different from the shuttles tiles, different materials and a lot more robust with multiple flights per tiles set planned. There were some tiles on starhopper when it did it's test flight back in August, and some more tiles were put onto the cargo dragon pod that just came back from ISS for testing purposes.
 
Sooooo ..... is this one considered a disposable unit or do they hope to return it to earth and land it like their boosters? Just curious because a returning spacecraft would have to carry significantly more fuel for braking unless they intend to use heat proof tiles like the shuttle.
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Starship is a configurable multipurpose vehicle, and they're going to replace Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy with it. Upwards of 80+ tonnes empty, it'll carry 1500 tonnes of propellants and another 100-150 tonnes of payload. Shuttle could do 25 tonnes.

Its a monster.

Used as a transport with a full compliment of sea level engines, it'll boost to a high sub-orbital trajectory and land up to 10,000km away in 30 minutes or less.

Launched atop a Super Heavy booster (2.5+ the thrust of Saturn V) it could do LEO to geostationary missions. Crew, cargo, whatever.

Do the same booster launch and add other starship-based tankers to refuel it in orbit and Starship could do deep space crewed or cargo missions. Moon, Mars, Ceres, some Jovian moons...

As noted, a tanker version is part of the fleet, as is one for satellite missions.

It requires little fuel to land, and this is stored in special "header tanks." It scrubs off speed by using drag, then comes down in an almost vertical belly flop like a skydiver - using drag brakes for control. At a few thousand meters it rotates vertical for a Falcon 9 style landing.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,599   +905
I love this type of stuff.
Hopefully we can send all the flat-earth believers up there first.
You'd probably have to push them out the airlock before they would believe you - I can hear them now "that window is probably just looking out at projection, hologram, or some kind of super-HD screen"
 
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