SpaceX Shows Vision of Starship at a Mars City and at Saturn

SpaceX has new renderings of a Mars City using the new Starship design.

The main constraint on the Super-Heavy booster is ramping up the production of the Raptor engines.

They will need 100 Raptor engines to get to the orbital test. They build one Raptor engine currently every eight days. On 2 months they want to get to one Raptor engine every two days. By Q12020, they want to get to one engine every day. This means the orbital flight would not be until about March, 2020.

SpaceX wants to be able eventually refly boosters up to 20 times a day.
They will fly the Starship about 3-4 times a day. The orbital limitation is about the orbits. This would not be a limitation for a point to point version.

The fully reusable fleet of Super Heavy Starship will increase humanities launch capacity by 10000 times. This is max theoretical.

With 20 rockets you could put 3 million tons per year into orbit.

SOURCES- SpaceX, Elon Musk

34 thoughts on “SpaceX Shows Vision of Starship at a Mars City and at Saturn”

  1. I love SciFi renderings. 

    I’ve been to quite a few parts of Urth, by plane, then by boat & car, bus and bike, touring, solo, lugging cameras, or not at all much. The thing that hits me is “Urth is big”. You cannot see pyramids from space. THey’re big. Urth is way bigger. And Urth is a mere mote compared to Jupiter or Saturn. The rings are bigger yet. 

    There’s our intrepid space ship, chugging along, blue exhaust ablaze. Quickly approaching … ahem … in months … the Great Saturn, having slung past Jup to get a big tug-for-free from the king of the gods. To 6 decimal places, on just the right course to be captured by Saturn… with a little deceleration on approach. Then around and around, on long elliptical arcs, using planned-serendipitous close-moonlet-approaches to revector over the months of observation.  

    Done… a really careful point-back to “Home”, and burn a bunch of fuel to do it again. Use Jup again, to give back that free kinetic energy, to slow down. And Mars or Venus or Earth when closer, for the same. Exhausted of most every kilogram of fuel, oxygen, hydrogen, food, pharmaceuticals, anti-radiation meds, back you come. 

    To a great welcoming, one imagines. How brave, to sit in a can for 4 years. Thank the gods the planners didn’t fill the lockers with pork n beans. 

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

    PS – about that unobtanium…

  2. Yah… just think about it…

    Here on Urth, directly above your head, is about 10,000 kg/m² of air. ALL angles other than 90°, there’s more than 10,000 kg/m² ‘in that direction’. Perhaps while not made of tightly bound lead nuclei, it still is a pretty formidable blanket of intergalactic and interstellar (and solar) radiation absorber. 

    Straight above your head on Mars, at any of the very few lowest points, there is about 10.0 kg/m² (adjusting for lower gravity, etc.). That would be “not as much”, by 100×. Further, there is no Martian magnetic field to gently guide the bulk of Sol’s and the Intergalactic cosmic ray incoming … around the planet toward the poles. None at all. Not good. 

    So, basically you would want MORE than Earth’s 10 tons/m² above your head, most of the time. Perhaps more like 30 or 50 tons/m². Just to be sure, especially against highly energetic proton storms. 

    Figuring — as is reasonable — that arisalith (Martian ‘regolith’) is a water modified mostly-metamorphic-altered-in-situ mineral complex not dissimilar to Earth’s abundant altered basalts, then the density is about 3.5 to 4.5 metric tons per cubic meter. mt/m³. Cool! So, 10 meters would be about enough of the stuff, provided it is well compacted and not riddled with holes. 

    Yah… back at ya.
    VERY few picture-perfect martian spaceport glass-walled observing platforms. Very few. If any.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  3. Notice that despite that starship kicking up dust, everything is shiny.

    I continue to think everything that doesn’t need to be on the surface in a Mars colony is going to be buried, under anywhere from a couple feet to a dozen meters of sandbags.

  4. If I’m not mistaken, 6.9 km/s isn’t enough to land and on the Moon with 150 tons of cargo and return, even if you return empty. But I’m too lazy to check the calculation. I did a similar calculation a while back, and as I recall, if you want to land 150 tons, you’ll need to refuel at the Moon for the return trip. But you can make it back without refueling if you land a smaller cargo. Still need to refuel at LEO though.

    edit: My calculations were with 1100 tons of fuel, which gave 6.4 km/s delta-v. With 1200 tons and 6.9 km/s, that might be just barely enough to return. Will need to look into it in more detail to check.

  5. Reminds me of the 1950’s moon settlement renderings. But what caught my eye was the Saturn “fly-by” when Mars is like, 8AU from Saturn. Maybe it was meant as a Michelin style “deserves a detour” kinda thing. But I dunno, a few years of detouring seems a bit out of the way, though the view will probably be amazing.

    Anyway, I presume the Mars City is made of transparent aluminum supported by a structure made with Unobtainium.

  6. Musk had mentioned his goal of making Starship carbon-neutral.

    That’s actually possible to do because the liquid methane propellant CAN be made from atmospheric CO2 via the Sabatier reaction, using solar power to generate the required electricity.

  7. Musk is shooting for 150 tons of cargo/passengers into low earth orbit. To lift that kind of payload tonnage into LEO will basically burn the main fuel tanks in Starship to nearly empty, say with a safety margin of 150 tons of propellant in its tanks remaining.

    Fully fueled, Starship has 1200 tons of propellants in its tanks. So if a Starship with a full 150-ton load of cargo/passengers got to LEO with 150 tons of propellant left in its tanks, it will need to refuel with 1050 tons of additional propellant to top off its tanks. That’s 7 Starship tankers each hauling 150 tons of extra fuel as payload into LEO to fully refuel the one hauling 150 tons of cargo/passengers.

    Once topped off with 1200 tons of propellant in its tanks, that fully-loaded Starship in LEO will be capable of 6.9 km/s of delta-v. That’s enough delta-v to head to the Moon (with enough fuel to return to Earth after unloading its payload on the lunar surface), or to head to Mars, though when it lands on Mars the tanks will be empty (which is why ISRU production of fuel on Mars via the Sabatier reaction is crucial for the return trip).

  8. How many Starship launches does it take to completely fill a starship tank in orbit? Or, where’s the needle on the gas tank when you get to orbit?

  9. I’ve seen posts claiming they expect the BFS to shed as much as 90% of its speed by aerobraking at Mars, so they are left with less than 1000 m/s propulsive delta-v for the landing, and maybe as little as 400 m/s, out of the total 4100 m/s from LMO to Mars surface. That was before these large fins were added. Source: (need to dig into the sub-threads to find the juicy stuff).

    Keep in mind that the BFS’ fuel tanks are mostly empty at reentry, while the ship’s underside is rather large. They describe its aerodynamics as essentially those of a large feather. These new fins only make it more so. By the looks of it, these wings increase the belly area by maybe as much as 20-30%.

  10. Earth’s atmosphere is actually far too thick for high speed aerocapture, which is why you need some lift if you’re going to do it; You need to stay in the high upper atmosphere to keep the heat load within tolerable levels.

    Even with Mars’ thin atmosphere, some care needs to be taken during an aerocapture maneuver to avoid overheating or excess acceleration.

  11. ANY help is welcome. Yes, the stubby frontal and back fins will do little to aerobreak at Mars. But still will help a lot compared to ONLY the ship’s body.

    Plus, Musk has mentioned two aerobreaking passes at Mars.

    As these will be ship entirely re-usable, it doesn´t make sense to REMOVE the fins when going to Mars, then add then again upon returning to Earth.

    At least not in the beginning. I suppose in later stages, they might have ships only for Earth-Space-Earth and others only for Mars-Space-Mars.

  12. It’s designed to be the 100% reusable workhorse for their satellite launch business here on earth. You could hire it as part of your Mars design reference mission implementation, but they will not be customizing it to suit, unless you want to pay them to remove the air surfaces.

  13. The RCS thrusters are wanted to do the flip from belly-flop to tail down for landing. They can do that with the main engine, but they end up speeding up the Starship during that maneuver, because the main engines only have 15 degrees of gimble, and have to thrust a lot in the wrong direction to produce the needed torque. So using them is VERY inefficient, though they’ll do that in the initial tests because they’re relying on cold gas RCS thrusters in the early tests.

  14. The reason they’re carried all the way to Mars is because the ship is expected to return to Earth. They’re quite clear about that, the Starship is expected to make multiple round trips. And will be using aerobraking at both ends of the trip, so it needs to keep its fins.

    If a bolo system were put in place to supply the necessary delta-v in both directions, so that aerobraking wasn’t needed, and you could use a specialized craft for the Earth-Mars trip, they’d probably lose the fins.

  15. I will also agree with you that the Starship is not ideal for all cases and I think Robert Zubrin brings this up where he states that a specifically designed Mars lander is much better suited for a Mars colony than the Starship. But if a single mass produced design can do multiple tasks even less than perfectly efficiently, then the advantage is huge. More specialized designs will come, but this gets the ball rolling. I heard that Elon has a road map for producing the Starship for less than the cost of a Falcon 9!!!! Hard to believe, (or it was until he produced one in just 4 months) but if that is $50 million, then who cares if it has a few extra wings hanging off as it lands on the Moon with 100 tons of payload!!!

  16. Another point is that Elon has already taken this beyond CGI renderings and has actually built it. So now the renderings are much more of a reflection of reality irregardless of the practicality that has yet to proven.

  17. Starship is supposed to do a belly flop entry, where the belly is perpendicular to entry angle, creating a huge braking surface. The fore and aft fins are, so I’ve seen speculated, more like airbrakes which fold away from the belly to the back. By controlling how much the brakes are deployed they can orient the craft during entry. I’ve also read an Elon tweet saying Starship will be have some minor lifting body effect. But, the same video mentioned previously states Starship will need RCS thrusters at lower altitudes, and speculates that the nose brakes might also work like rudders just before landing, like the grid fins on the other rockets.

  18. I thought the fins were for control and not for aerobraking per se. Yes, I agree the body does the majority of the aerobraking.

  19. At a 30° angle, passing from full-on outer space to Earth’s surface, puts the incoming spacecraft thru 19,800 kg of atmosphere per square meter of the frontal area of of the craft.  Hence, why stubby lil’ fins can appreciably retard the velocity of the spacecraft. 

    Compare that to Mars. 

    At a 30° angle, the very same spacecraft goes thru only 119 kg of Martian atmosphere per square meter. Stubby lil’ wings will do next to naught in retarding the many kilometers-per-second of reëntry velocity.  

    Like I say… it really helps to be quantitative. 
    Qualitative arguments are wishful, at best.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  20. I thought the fins were for both Mars and Earth atmosphere. They are planning on removing 95+% of the entry energy to Mars on aerobraking. This controlled aerobraking fall is what the fins are for, No?

  21. Fine… so putting your thinking cap on, WHY are the fins being carried all the way to Mars, all around the Solar System (in the pretty pictures of Saturn), presumably only for the purpose of coming back to Earth, to skip thru the atmosphere for a reasonably controlled landing?


    No reason, except for the iconography.
    Which was my point.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  22. The fins on the starship are for landing on Earth, not on Mars.

    First, the fins will generate lift, keeping the ship out of dense atmosphere while part of its initial speed is transformed into heat.
    Then, they will control pitch, roll and yaw, much like a skydiver, while the ship falls to Earth.

    The purpose is to keep the temperature on the starship’s skin at a lower level for a longer period of time – its heatshield is not ablative, but reusable.

  23. Yeah, lots of bucolic scenes full of sentimental, inspiring value but taking a lot of liberties with realism or feasibility.

    But in the end, this is what these images are: inspiration for customers and indirectly for a whole generation. And whenever this kind of depictions of a new frontier are used, a lot of it is meant to entice emotion (akin to real estate ads).

    And honestly, this latest generation needs a kick in the rear to get them to believe in anything.

  24. Hey… I love science fiction art, and this stuff is amongst the very best. Beautiful.  

    Clouds of Mars dust kicked up by the picture-perfect methane-fueled SuperDuper (so-called) Starship taking off … go, go, go! Mom and Dad and The Kids standing at the outskirts of the Starport as it also must be called, under a transparent dome of high-tensile glass and natively created titania composite.  The observer’s deck. With a brightly lit dome off to the right … probably growing vittles for self-sufficient colonial independence. 

    What’s not to like!

    Then the grump old Science Goat pivots his space-alien goaty eyes upon the tableau and asks a few hard questions.  

    So what ARE those fins on the so-called StarShip for? Certainly not for azimuth adjustments in a nearly atmosphere-free space environment (including Mars’ surface). Certainly not to buffet reëntry energy. Why?

    Just to give the as-yet-worked-out-independently-and-critically StarShip a readily identifiable outline … for the 3D graphics to glorify?

    Dunno… I could go on, but it’d just sound dyspepsic. However — and I mean it — beautiful 3D renderings. Lovely vision-of-the-hopeful-future stuff. I am encouraged by The Next Generation having something Really Big to shoot for.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

  25. A moment.. Mk1 is in a very first phase of development. This monument of steel needs a *lot* of work to become operational, years may be needed. The only elements that excite me are the Raptors engines, great achievement. Moreover the renders of the Mars outpost are childish, they should be buried several meters underground for the radiations..

  26. The speed of the development of the Starship Mk 1 has been amazing. What else could be achieved if others used the same approach? We’re seeing the Gigafactory in China being developed at such speeds. Could effective military hardware be developed using this approach?

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