Elon Will Present Details of SpaceX Starship in Three Weeks

August 24th, either at Cape Canaveral or Boca Chica, Elon Musk will present a detailed review of the first Orbital Starship with pros and cons of the design decisions.

51 thoughts on “Elon Will Present Details of SpaceX Starship in Three Weeks”

  1. Starliner is even worse. A combination of Starship and Ocean (Space) Liner carrying many tourists – neither of which we’ll see for a very long time.

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  2. Regarding names — what about the Boeing Starliner? Do you also object to that.
    Sierra Nevada’s DreamChaser — is it not Greco-Roman enough for you?

    SpaceX will launch NASA Astronauts to the ISS when the preparations are finished. And before Boeing’s StarLiner or the Orion/SLS flies.

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  3. The key in that is “when Starship is on its feet”.

    Dragon first launched in 2010 and MAYBE this year it will take crew to orbit. SpaceX is taking a very different approach with Starship (unfortunately, I think) so they cannot benefit as much from their experience crew-rating Dragon as they might.

    So Starship might not be launching crews before 2028! OK, SpaceX is bigger and better, so maybe it won’t be 9 years. Still, the point is that there may be an appreciable period in which no crews launch from Earth on Starship, but Starship could be doing in-space crewed operations – e.g. taking crew and cargo to lunar orbit, possibly landing crew on and launching from the moon.

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  4. Correct, if a 100m diameter toroid in LEO can be spun up for 1g artificial gravity then the circumference of the toroid is 300m. If Starship can launch 20m segments with a minor diameter of 8m then it would only require 15 launches for the outer ring, perhaps twenty or twenty five if you include the rest of the stuff. That would essentially be the Von Braun Wheel but only two decks instead of three, so a crew capacity of about 40. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotating_wheel_space_station
    If the Starship cost per launch is $50 Million each then launch cost is just $1.25 Billion. If Starship launch cost is as low as $5 Million per launch (as Elon claims, long term) then the cost is just $125 Million! Much cheaper and faster than a Mars colony. The ISS cost of launch for just the 36 Shuttle flights was $36 Billion with a total cost of $150 Billion!!!

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  5. You are being confused by scale variations. Stick to a given population size and Mars is the last and hardest thing. We’ve had orbiting small SpaceColony, ISS, for years already.

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  6. So, instead of mentioning SSP late in plan, why not start with an existential emergency focus on LSP as a solution to global heating, along with the the other shades and whatever we could also do from Space, if we were there!
    The Globus ELEOs could be launched and be a place to hang and work on machinery as lunar sites are visited, but not lived in long term. Mass driver parts are constructed by these people, perhaps with material rocketed from the Moon, until the driver is complete and installed. Continue . . .

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  7. “The suite of LCROSS and LRO instruments determined as much as 20 percent of the material kicked up by the LCROSS impact was volatiles, including methane, ammonia, hydrogen gas, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.”
    from science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/21oct_lcross2/
    (edit: so may not be *in* the water, but there!)

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  8. Quick and dirty is Al Globus ELEO. Mars will come after Moon and asteroids are well along. Now that Mars Direct/First/Only ideas have been abandoned. Not that long ago, altho I fought it for over 40 years!

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  9. *Just pile dirt* may be harder than just dragging dirt with a single central scooper to a mass driver, and 0 g handling for it from there. Of course, you need a mass driver to this, but if that is the long term plan, do it ASAP. Or you will wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

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  10. (edit: search LCROSS for best results!)
    Nova: Back to the Moon, a few weeks ago. Covered O’Neill and water discovery by Paul Spudis (sad note at end) and said volcanoes supplied water early, not impacts, so has volcano gasses condensed, or whatever opposite of sublime is.
    It was reported, but barely, after LCROSS(sp?) experiment.
    (edit: may have been a show about the planets’ formation, about same time, as the NOVA)

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  11. The mass driver was invented and demonstrated by O’Neill himself in the 70’s. It is not current tech. It is old tech.
    (edit: may not work on Mars?)

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  12. The point of the CH4 is that it doesn’t leak through its containment vessel on a 6 month trip to Mars. Hydrogen would be better, if that weren’t a consideration.

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  13. There won’t be any more Dragon missions when the Starship is on its feet. The Starship is cheaper and bigger, they’ll use it solely until an even bigger replacement comes along.

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  14. Unclear what you’re saying. Mass and place to store them?

    Perhaps I was unclear: I meant treating Dragon capsules as cargo to be delivered (uncrewed) to orbit. That might only be useful once we have crews arriving frequently from the moon on true spaceships (i.e. that stay in space), and want an assured ride down waiting in orbit.

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  15. No. He’s following his client’s rules. Dragon2 is a NASA contract vehicle. Starship is all SpaceX and is proceeding 10X as fast.

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  16. Of course. Mars is about what can be done now, quick and dirty to establish a separate human foothold someplace else. That is seen as providing a forcing function to become genuinely spacefaring- which includes building Space Colonies,

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  17. SpaceX can realistically start settling Mars within the 2020’s. With the same rate of investment it would take a generation or more before they could even start to build a SpaceColony.

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  18. For these ideas, ISS is an O’Neill hab, as it is in Space, not on a planet. I supported a visitable Moon base rather than a Space Station, to start processing experiments, but there would have been no place to hang out between visits. That is why O’Neill emphasized bootstrapping and ISRU. Why people think Mars will help in this is beyond me!

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  19. You can do without the heavy radiation shielding if you stay under the Van Allen belt. It also turns out that with a few hours of adaptation, humans can withstand faster rotation than we used to think. Hence the Kalpana Two, which starts to look kinda feasible once the BFR is running at high volume.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3181/1

    By the time we have experience building a bunch of those, we’ll be able to source building material from the moon or near earth asteroids, and go bigger and further out.

    Whether Kalpana Two or a Mars colony would be easier, for the same population, I have no idea. I figure lets do both, and the Moon too, and SPS while we’re at it.

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  20. This is the orig O’Neill question, sort of. Cannot start from nothing but Space, but at what point does continuing planet hassle (ignore distance for this idea) mean that it is better to set up a mass driver or Moon Space elevator(pretty easy) v sticking it out on Mars, or Moon? It is not the total mass, it is the effort and attention to get the hab built. Get stuck on a planet and troubles never cease!
    (edit: and you need no extra *dirt* in Al Globus Eq LEO)

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  21. I just saw the whole Blue Moon hour or so presentation a few days ago. I had been confused for a long time, thinking the orig Bezos rocket was CH4, and was then corrected to learn it was H2. Now I know why, it is for second stage and on, after cheap CH4 to start. But you saw this before I did! Wow. That is a huge mistake unless you want really good CH4 rockets, which seems to at least be happening. (edit: lots of water on Mars, at least at poles) Also, there is abundant C on the Moon too, either CO or CO2 from early volcanoes seems to be mixed in with the water. Recent Nova! Again, WOW!

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  22. In terms of pure tonnage: A mars habitat is a few tonnes of thin airtight shell/membranes, and you just pile dirt on it to give you radiation shielding, insulation etc.
    An orbital settlement needs the same shell, plus the hundreds of tonnes of “dirt” all supplied into your orbital location.
    A mars habitat should be able to use local water and oxygen supplies, just add energy to make it suitable for humans. An orbital needs all of that lifted out of a gravity well.

    You can work through the numbers there and it looks like a couple of orders of magnitude to me.

    On the other hand, the distances and travel times involved are against the Mars case.

    Now if you can indeed “capture an asteroid” then things look up for the orbital case. But that’s still a hand waving exercise at this point.

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  23. The only point of difference that I’m aware of, and it’s a big one, is the choice of fuel.

    If you are going to Mars, you choose methane, because that’s easy to synthesise in a CO2 atmosphere with some ice available.

    But if you are aiming at the Moon, asteroids, and orbitals only then H2 is probably a better option. You can make H2 and O2 from any ice but carbon is apparently much harder to source away from a major planet.

    Musk is aiming at Mars and has chosen CH4.

    Bezos is aiming at the smaller bodies, starting with Luna, and has chosen H2.

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  24. That would be ideal! See what he sez!
    But overall plan has to make a big difference at some point. Many unseen assumptions hang around if your overall *big* plan is entirely different(from Bezos/O’Neill, in particular). This has come up before, but Musk is anti SSP for some reason. Could it be tech misunderstanding, or that he sees no immediate Mars benefit? I’m just more and more amazed the two main guys can be so radically different.

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  25. So maybe there is no difference. The landing system for Mars also lets it land on Earth for full reusability. The same delta-v also gets us to the Moon and asteroids for raw materials, or lets us carry more cargo. The cargo capacity is useful for anything.

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  26. See Janov for how my delusions can be CURED!
    For any given size, living in O’Neill Space, which would include ISS by the way, is O’Neill easier than Mars! Case closed! See Al Globus for next step, while you are waiting for Mars ticket.

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  27. Well, that was the initial question. To the extent there is a difference, IMHO, there is wasted effort, at least, as well as truly damaging distraction. Forget Mars!

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  28. It can go beyond low earth orbit if it uses part of its 100 plus tons of payload for fuel instead. With refueling it can deliver this enormous payload to the moon or Mars. That makes it way more powerful than the Saturn V. In short, refueling is a pure plus. Although, you have a point in that it seems to be designed to require refueling for most missions. It is just that refueling is so beneficial that SpaceX considers it stupid and backwards to not use it. For the satellite deploy version carrying a normal Geostationary satellite (far less than the 100 ton max payload) I would think the whole Starship could get into a GTO orbit. Just thinking.

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  29. NASA’s entire annual budget is only $21 billion, with $2 billion for SLS. Still, I wouldn’t say SLS isn’t troubled.

    SpaceX though spends far less than $2 billion annually. They spent well under a billion total for Falcon Heavy.

    It was the Falcon Heavy that was supposed to carry crew this year, but that’s been delayed due to the Dragon explosion, which they say is an easy problem to fix. I don’t think Starship was scheduled to carry crew yet, and the program appears to be advancing at a rapid pace.

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  30. See how much of the design is driven by Mars considerations. See where those decisions would be different if O’Neill Space were the goal. See the problem?

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  31. Yes, but it lasted in total 15 years: 1960-1975, so only $32.7b/year, which is almost a rounding error in today’s expanded $4t/year federal budget, and a great job stimulus as well. We can do this again and if we collaborated with foreign powers, as we did with Russia in the 1970s to present, even during the height of the Cold War, it would reduce tensions and move skilled STEM worked to space projects instead of WMDs. Space exploration could save humanity.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_program

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  32. Both programs are troubled and delayed. I’m old enough to remember how we went from virtually nothing to landing men on the Moon in under 10 years. Now America cannot even launch people into orbit without Russia. Musk has done many great things, but this is a major hurdle which he is probably avoiding due to safety concerns and it needs to be called out.

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  33. Still wishing Musk/SpaceX would either consider a 2nd stage that rotates on axis for reentry to dump heat, or explain why they believe it isn’t viable.

    If the reason is “it’s not practical for a crewed vessel”, the obvious solution is to land crew in a separate capsule – a well proven design approach, and in fact they already have one (Dragon). One Starship might be able to launch 5 – 10 of them, to serve multiple crewed missions.

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  34. Seems to me you shouldn’t be able to call something a “starship” when it can’t even get beyond orbit without refueling. Wasn’t SpaceX supposed to be sending humans into space in August?

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