SpaceX has confirmed that the Super Heavy Starship will be able to launch a LUVOIR space telescope with a mirror over thirty times larger than the Hubble telescope mirror.
The LUVOIR space telescope would enable us to characterize the atmosphere of exoplanets and look for biosignatures.
LUVOIR would also provide up to about 25 km imaging resolution in visible light at Jupiter, permitting detailed monitoring of atmospheric dynamics in Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune over long timescales. It can provide sensitive, high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy of Solar System comets, asteroids, moons, and Kuiper Belt objects that will not be visited by spacecraft in the foreseeable future can provide vital information on the processes that formed the Solar System ages ago. It could help study geysers from the ocean moons of the outer Solar System, in particular Europa and Enceladus, over long timescales.
The tweet Goddard of the LUVOIR inside a SpaceX Starship is another mission designed for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket which might end up with SpaceX.
LUVOIR would be a Large Strategic Science Mission and will be considered for development start sometime after 2020. The LUVOIR Team has produced designs for two variants of LUVOIR: one with a 15-meter diameter telescope mirror (LUVOIR-A) and one with an 8-meter diameter mirror (LUVOIR-B). LUVOIR can observe ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths of light.
There is a rendering of the 8-meter LUVOIR-B inside the SpaceX Starship. Christopher Stark, Associate scientist @ Space Telescope Science Institute, says that they have confirmed that the 15-meter diameter LUVOIR-A would also fit.
We asked and @SpaceX checked. The #LUVOIR space telescope concept can indeed fly on Starship! (graphic used by permission) pic.twitter.com/ZVz9CbAp3F
— NASA Goddard (@NASAGoddard) April 11, 2019
Pictured is #LUVOIR B, but @SpaceX has looked at LUVOIR A as well and it fits (barely). Because LUVOIR is a fundamentally scalable design, there would be no problem fine tuning the aperture to the fairing. https://t.co/e43tiMTGPi
— Christopher Stark (@starkspace) April 11, 2019
In 2016, NASA began considering four different space telescopes for the Large Strategic Science Missions.
They are the
Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx),
Large UV Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR),
Lynx X-ray Observatory, and
Origins Space Telescope (OST).
In 2019 the four teams will turn their final reports over to the National Academy of Sciences, whose independent Decadal Survey committee advises NASA on which mission should take top priority. If funded, LUVOIR would launch approximately in 2039, using a heavy launch vehicle and it would be placed at the Sun–Earth Lagrange 2 point.
SOURCES- NASA, Twitter, SpaceX
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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13 thoughts on “SpaceX Super Heavy Starship Could Help Us Find Signs of Alien Life”
You don’t want a ‘scope in Starship. It needs its own shroud.
The reduction in the cost of launching large space telescope will hopefully lead to the building of many new ones. My favorite idea is to orbit a set of ten to twenty large space telescope that would cover the entire sky daily looking for unusually phenomena. Mass production would make them cheap.
Why 2039? Is it possible to get it ready sooner? Like, say, 2029?
P.S. Here’s an idea, NASA needs $20 billion more funding per year, then they could fully fund HabEx, LUVOIR, Lynx and OST, ARRM(Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission), FINESSE, and actually finish JWST…
Of course, personally, I am in favor of the government taking, say, 25% of US military spending, and giving it to NASA, that’s on top of the $21 billion per year that they currently receive… $170 billion is enough to build lots and lots of stuff. NASA wouldn’t even need to build a telescope anymore, they could just put up a nuclear powered laser array on the Moon, and use photon propulsion to accellerate a probe to 10% of c, and send the probe towards any star-system within 6 light years….
It’s not just exteriors. The idea is that any single instance of the vehicle could be used to perform any of the 3 basic roles (crew, cargo, tanker). This minimizes the number of vehicles they have to build.
I wonder if by the time this thing is ready, it will make more sense to make at least the mirrors in orbit, for telescopes with far larger apertures.
They might do that, it wouldn’t be optimal, but would get away from having multiple exteriors. And, realistically, the cargo and tanker versions are going to get a lot more traffic early on.
Looking it up, the initial tanker version will just be the cargo version with no cargo.
for something like the LUVOIR, its worth designing a whole head-cone for it …. even if it led to a single time use … who care … they should build the biggest telescope possible
Last pictures we saw, it had a sort of Pinto Hatchback arrangement. I expect it to look more like the Shuttle payload bay doors in the long run–much easier to deploy stuff.
If I had to guess, SpaceX will also start out with a crew module that fits in the payload bay, so that any given Starship can fly either cargo, crew, or some combination of the two.
Just think of a tuna-can-like structure. I suggest that they call it StarKist.
This decision seems more and more the rightest.
Isn’t there a cargo version that’s intended to have a large door? I believe there are three variants proposed: A cargo version, a passenger version, and a tanker version.
As I’ve said before, the decision to switch to stainless permits easy one off versions, so long as they retain the external aerodynamics and mass distribution.
Seems that they would need to redesign the Starship to have shuttle like bay doors to release large payloads like this telescope
What happened to the hypertelescope ?
a space version of this will resolve a magnitude better.
First time I see some part of NASA even acknowledging the potential existence of SpaceX’s Starship.
Well, that’s progress.
It could launch a lot more than LUVOIR, though.
Also, planning 2039 for its launch is a heck of a long time to wait. Who’s making these schedules?, ITER program managers?
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