SpaceX Orbital Starship Aiming for 20 Kilometer Flight in October and Orbital Attempt After

Elon Musk tweeted that the orbital versions of the Starship (one in Texas and one in Florida) are aiming for 20km flight in Oct and an orbit attempt shortly thereafter. Elon Musk will give the starship update on Sept 28th. This is the anniversary of SpaceX reaching orbit. Starship Mk 1 will be fully assembled by September 28, 2019.

The orbital starship completion date would only be three months behind are target that Elon Musk had hoped to achieve in January, 2019. An orbital launch of Starship in 2019 would achieve the aspirational goal that Elon had in January.

The SpaceX switch to stainless steel construction has enabled the rapid construction and testing of these rockets.

Development of the SpaceX Falcon 9 was announced in 2005 and it flew for its first commercial flight in 2010.

Other rocket makers like Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance are taking ten to twenty years to go from the start of rocket design to orbital test flights.

Elon Musk had targeted the Super Heavy Starship to reach orbit by 2020. In January, Elon had said the odds of making it to orbit by 2020 are at least 60% and rising rapidly.

Starship is the upper stage of what was called the BFR (Big F** Rocket). It is a 9-meter (30 ft)-diameter, 55-meter (180 ft)-tall, fully reusable spacecraft design. It will have a with a dry mass of 85,000 kg (187,393 lb) and will use six methane/oxygen-propellant Raptor engines. There have been discussion of designs that use seven or eight engines for point to point travel on Earth in under one hour flight time.

Total Starship thrust will be about 11,500 kN; 2,600,000 lbf (1,170 tf).

The 20-kilometer flight would involve three Raptor engines.

Starship is the second stage for the BFR launch vehicle that provides acceleration to orbital velocity on all launches from Earth, and yet will also be used in space as an on-orbit long-duration spacecraft.

The Starship design is intended to be fully reusable even when used as a second stage for orbital ascent from Earth.

In May 2019 it was announced that Starship will use three sea-level optimized Raptor engines and three vacuum-optimized Raptor engines.

The plan is for at least three operational versions:

Spaceship: a large, long-duration spacecraft capable of carrying passengers or cargo to interplanetary destinations, to LEO, or between destinations on Earth.
Satellite delivery spacecraft: a vehicle able to transport and place spacecraft into orbit and for in-space recovery of spacecraft and space debris for return to Earth or movement to another orbit.

Tanker: a cargo-only propellant tanker to support the refilling of propellants in Earth orbit. The tanker will enable launching a heavy spacecraft to interplanetary space as the spacecraft being refueled can use its tanks twice, first to reach LEO and afterwards to leave Earth orbit. The tanker variant, also required for high-payload lunar flights, is expected to come only later; initial in-space propellant transfer will be from one standard Starship to another.

* SpaceX wants to eventually reach airline levels of safety due to engine-out capability.
* Rendezvous and docking operations will be automated

14 thoughts on “SpaceX Orbital Starship Aiming for 20 Kilometer Flight in October and Orbital Attempt After”

  1. I’ve heard of people arguing that even lifeless planets should be left pristine, but I’ve never heard of anyone arguing against spaceships to orbit.

    Not that I would be surprised. There are all sorts of insane positions that people take.

    But you need more than a handful of nutjobs on the internet before a real space launch has any restrictions put on it.

  2. People need a target. While in reality I actually agree with you the problem is the Moon is seen as our fathers place and the Asteroids lack the Presence of a planet.

    Also It would make a great place to build ships eventually. MUCH easier to get off of the surface and its got plenty of land and resources.

  3. While I have a low opinion of Greenpeace for them opposing nuclear power & GMOs thus pushing people into doing things with far greater negative environmental impact, I wasn’t aware of them advocating for or against anything above the atmosphere.

    As for Planetary Protection, it would be nice if life found on Mars or Europa was *known* to be native rather than contamination from Earth. The scientific value of that is worth only landing sterilized probes there for some time until we find life there or there is enough negative results to say with high probability the body has no native life.

    I think the moon and asteroids are more important for space development anyway. Mars can wait.

  4. Point is, it’s easy enough that it can wait on having enough refueling flights to keep a single purpose tanker busy.

  5. take your pick, greenpeace and similar protective organizations are all worried about us “contaminating” other planets, that we must perserve them pristine etc.

  6. At least for awhile, there probably isn’t any difference between cargo starship and tanker starship. Used as a tanker, the cargo area is empty and it just makes it to orbit with more propellant left over. There isn’t much gain from removing the cargo area and an obvious loss of flexibility.

  7. Lets hope they are proactive with the FAA this time and dont have another long drawn out process. Would be a shame to see this sitting on the launch pad ready to go while the bureaucrats sit around picking their noses.

  8. Starship is supposed to be (barely) SSTO so it wouldn’t be surprising if the prototypes, lacking most of the payload structure, are also SSTO.

    Cannpt believe the October date. but there it is 🙂

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