SpaceX is Already Building the Orbital Starship

SpaceX will not build a new nosecone for the Starhopper. Elon Musk tweeted that the new nosecone is being built for the orbital Starship. Elon has previously indicated that the orbital version of the Starship would be completed in June 2019. Elon Musk has tweeted that the first orbital Starship upper stage prototype should be completed by June 2019. He has stated that the Super Heavy first stage will start construction in the spring. If the Starhopper has successful testing from April through June, then an orbital test could happen in the latter half of 2019. SpaceX will be able to build the 38 Raptor engines for a full Super Heavy Starship. SpaceX has completed full testing of the stainless steel heat shield tiles. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy succeed on its first launch into space. The Falcon Heavy had 27 engines. The engines were similar in size to the Raptor engines. SpaceX has landed many first stages. The Starship is seven engines and following the same development plan. If the first launch success of the Falcon Heavy was not a fluke, then SpaceX could have made breakthroughs in computational design and pre-orbital testing.
Nosecone for the orbital version of the Starship
SOURCES- Twitter (Elon Musk, Austin Barnard, Chris B NSF) SpaceX Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture

31 thoughts on “SpaceX is Already Building the Orbital Starship”

  1. I am calling for a congressional audit of the SLS. Who is with me? I would bet big money ULA (Boeing and Lockheed) has been funneling the SLS money on the Vulcan. Some last ditch hurrah to try and catch up, that will ultimately be a giant fraud. What 20 billion or so later and yet still they are behind.

  2. They want to kill the SLS and soak up that NASA and USAF money that gets left over. As soon as they build this thing and it works it is the most powerful weapons platform on the planet. Makes a B-2 look like a toy. I am shocked at the level of Boeing and Lockheed support in space (one part of the huge cluster fuk and the reason more anti-lobbying and some constitutional amendment for campaign financing need to exist), they seriously suck balls hard. At least Europe ignored their MID shill and decided they need to compete with reusable boosters, but alas its too late.

  3. At certain “hot spots” where erosion is most likely to occur, they plan on using some of the fuel to cool using piping. That is the “transpiration cooling.” SS using a “hot structure” where there is enough of it to distribute the heat, is what SpaceX is going for. The other cooling will be a spot job that they will perfect with some tests and a first vehicle that will get beat up a bit.

  4. I hope the SLS will be killed and that wasted mony will be used to explore the rest of the solar system for life and resources.

  5. If an When Worlds Collide scenario I would expect 3 shifts all over, secondary production at KSC. Some high priory military need for an group WEB level spy sats as an cover.
    And yes Starship could have an probe with an 3 and 4 stage,
    For an asteroid nuke you don’t need a 4th braking stage but it would be nice for an Uranus orbiter. You can refuel the 3rd stage in orbit and even use the starship to go to Earth escape before dropping 3rd, if refueled in orbit.

  6. The tiles are not SS. Likely TUFROC. Elon mentioned on twitter the white hot parts of the tiles are at the peak expected re-entry temp of approx 1650K. 301 SS melting point is around 1700K, way too close. You often need to take the fine details on this site with a grain of salt unfortunately. Elon also mentioned that the transpiration cooling concept will only be applied in places where the tiles show ablation.

  7. We simply aren’t used to this kind of execution in space launchers.

    All of them up to now are projects several years, even decades in the making, with no rush to go anywhere (pun intended).

    SLS, the James Webb, etc. are egregious examples of this ‘always late, always over-budget’ mentality that has plagued space projects for a while.

  8. Good one way check valves should ensure they don’t get clogged or experience any backfeed into the system.

  9. I realize that it’s more likely to be due to Musk’s “run as fast as you can even if your nearest competitor is way behind you” business philosophy, and the need to get some huge capacity to orbit to keep Starlink on schedule.

    But it still does give that When Worlds Collide vibe, and if early next year the Starship’s first mission is to intercept an asteroid on collision course with the Earth, would you really be shocked?

  10. I’d bet dollars to donuts that a LOT of this is relative to NASA. Their recent statement about using commercial? Probably not a coincidence that they’ve suddenly started actually building the actual orbital article. Obviously probably some background dialogue that was happening before the press release.

  11. In principle you could use memory alloy valves to adjust the transpiration flow to maintain a constant temperature under varying heat load and pressure.

    You really do not want to us metal vapor to move heat around in a stainless steel structure. It would gradually diffuse into the steel and mess up the properties.

  12. I guess that means the nose cone on the hopper was just for looks?

    This is an EXTREMELY aggressive schedule. It almost has a “When Worlds Collide” feel to it. Is there something coming that they’re not telling us about?

  13. Actually, Titanium’s weight advantage really shows up at very high temperatures; It’s strength to weight ratio doesn’t drop with increasing temperature as fast as steel’s. Unless you’re running really hot, it isn’t worth it.

    The downside of titanium (Aside from expense) is that it isn’t as stiff as steel.

  14. Is it really necessary to have fuel bleed through micro-holes in the metal, as opposed to having a line or maybe three (to deal with roll) that sprays fuel to blow over the surface? Past studies showed the micro-holes method prone to rapid failure if even a few holes clogged.

    Also, I wonder if pressure differences over the surface might result in gas getting forced backwards through some of the holes, eliminating cooling in that area. Keeping all areas at sufficiently high pressure to avoid that would mean more fuel gets ejected in areas where it is least needed – i.e. cooler areas. They could design it with lots of little cooling zones (tiles?), each kept at sufficient pressure, but that’s adding yet more complexity.

    How about heat pipes using molten/gaseous zinc to move heat from the hottest areas to relatively cooler areas?

    Or cycle between low and high angles of attack. High angle of attack gives maximum drag and heating, low angle gives lift (to extend re-entry time) while allowing most of the ship (though not the nose) to cool somewhat.

  15. After tests hopper hopefully could be reused to put lunar modules on. Stack them like tuna cans in the cupboard. One ontop the other. Send to the moon. Unload staves and booms become rails to move ship away from habitats. Then refuel and save for emergency ship back to earth.

  16. So a few Starhopper hops, then a suborbital launch of the legit Starship test vehicle?

    And then a similar test for Super heavy also this year?


  17. This looks pretty much like the anti-SLS.

    This build-it-and-launch-it-fast approach is unlike anything we’ve seen in space launchers since the 60s.

    I hope they get it right the first time and don’t get a R.U.D. in the process.

  18. Despite of its advantages on paper, I would avoid the use of Titanium wherever one can replace it with a material that is easier to use, shape, bend, form, fabricate and is cheaper.

  19. The text is not clear on what the tiles are. It talks about stainless steel evaporative cooling tiles (in certain areas), but it is not specified if the hex tiles are, a) stainless without evap. cooling, b) stainless with evap. cooling, c) Pica-X, d) something else. I would like to know.

  20. If the cooling needed is only 300C as indicated by the Musk, titanium may be simpler and lighter than Transpiration cooling only for the surface that needs to be cooled.

  21. NASA is hobbled with a truly breathtaking amount of overhead. It has no chance to compete with Spacex.

  22. Wait, so they are loading up the first orbital vehicle with PICA-X tiles only (perhaps all over?) and see which are eroded, then orbital vehicle 2 will be the one with only transpiration cooling and general cooled skin and no tiles then, since starship supposedly was tileless?

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