Elon Musk has tweeted about sending dozens of modified Starlink satellites sent throughout the solar system. They would have ion drives with 1600 ISP. The mission would be sent from an expendable version of the Super Heavy Starship. The Starship would have an upper stage with three Vacuum Raptor engines.
Starships that are refueled in orbit could have a lot of Delta-V. Having four stages would also enable very fast trips. The fourth stage would be the ion drives of the modified Starlink satellites.
We should send probes to outer solar system & get high res, true color images of these strange things. Maybe there’s an alien artifact out there …— Jung Musk (@elonmusk) March 29, 2019
Massive delta velocity slam from highly elliptical Earth orbit using a fully retanked, but lightened up Starship with no heat shield or fins/legs. Best choice for the impatient. Ion engines are too slow.— Jung Musk (@elonmusk) March 29, 2019
I’m actually shocked you’d even consider an expendable StarShip upper stage instead of just delivering a kick stage! I’ll bet a F9 upper stage and large payload could fit inside the cargo bay of StarShip. Now that would be wild! 🤯— Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) March 29, 2019
Probably no fairing either & just 3 Raptor Vacuum engines. Mass ratio of ~30 (1200 tons full, 40 tons empty) with Isp of 380. Then drop a few dozen modified Starlink satellites from empty engine bays with ~1600 Isp, MR 2. Spread out, see what’s there. Not impossible.— Jung Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2019
Yeah, Falcon Heavy Block 5 has way more performance than last year’s vehicle. Lot of room to increase side booster load transfer & max Q without changing any parts. FH Block 5 can launch more payload to any orbit than any vehicle currently flying.— Jung Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2019
Annoying that @ULA perpetuates myth that Delta IV Heavy or Atlas V can do some orbits that Falcon Heavy can’t. This is absolutely false. FH would have to go full expendable for GEO direct, but that’s very rare.— Jung Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2019
SOURCES – Elon Musk and Everyday astronaut on twitter. ProjectRho orbit tables
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com