Elon Musk Wants Each Starship to Fly 1000 Flights Per Year and Retire Starships to Mars

Elon Musk tweeted that SpaceX is targeting for each fully reusable Starship to fly 3 flights per day. This will be 1000 flights per year. A fleet of ten Super Heavy starship would be able to take up to 1 million tons to orbit every year. They plan to build 100 Starships every year so that after 10 years they would reach 1000 Starships.

Nextbigfuture believes that the likely scenario would be for Super Heavy Starships to make their fully reusable flights to orbit and then make their final reliable trip to Mars. A fleet of used Super Heavy Starships would gather every two years for the solar orbit window for the flight to Mars.

The Starships would be fully amortized with many orbital flights or point to point sub-orbital flights.

A fleet of 1000 Starships would be able to move 100 million tons to orbit per year.

1000 Starships flying to Mars could deliver 100,000 tons. This would involve orbital refueling in order to bring full payload to Mars.

113 thoughts on “Elon Musk Wants Each Starship to Fly 1000 Flights Per Year and Retire Starships to Mars”

  1. This has been a concept suggest in SciFi for a long time. I remember a game called Traveler where one could design spaceships and one of the options was adding fuel scoops.

    If you want to really “water up” Mars the best way to do that would be to start bringing in large icy asteroids. The Oort cloud is full of them – but that is a long trip although your iceroid would give you plenty of fuel to shift orbit.

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  2. The idea of leaving them on Mars–even if only after a single flight–means you add a skyscraper each time you land.

    That’s my idea of re-use.

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  3. Venus might be a good place to get Nitrogen. 3.5% Nitrogen in a 9100kPa atmosphere means Venus has a partial pressure of 318kPa for Nitrogen. Thats far more than we’d need to terraform Mars.
    Plus, Nitrogen freezes at a far lower temperature than CO2, it’s easier to separate just by cooling the gas lower than -110f(freezing point of CO2).

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  4. There has been a $500,000 ticket cost floated around for a while, by Elon Musk and Gwyne Shotwell.
    Yes, it’s going to be over-represented by people who lived long enough to afford the ticket, but probably not grandmothers.
    Hypothetically, if a 20-year-old joined the US military today, did his/her 20 years and got out, if he stored as much of his/her pay in a high-yield savings account, he/she could retire from the military at 40 years old, and have over $960,000 in the bank.
    That’s enough to go to Mars, and still have enough money left in the bank to live comfortably on Mars for a long time(assuming 2.25% APY and a $1000/month withdrawal, that money would last 88 years.).
    In other words, it’s doable

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  5. Launch assists of any kind are “transportation infrastructure” like airports or bridges. They cost a lot to build, but not much to use each time. Until now, launch rates to orbit have been too low to justify such things. So rockets take off from a minimal site that can do the job. That’s a sturdy platform to sit on, a flame trench to handle the exhaust, and a tank farm to fill up the rocket at launch time.

    The closest anyone has come to deep water launches is “Sea Launch” (which I worked on for Boeing). This took a converted North Sea drilling platform and used it as an equatorial launch pad southwest of California (the home port was Long Beach). They had a couple of launch failures and went out of business.

    If Starship flies as often as Musk intends *and there are customers with payloads to pay for it* (that’s important), people will try to find ways to beat it and take some market share. That’s capitalism at work. A launch assist like you suggest is one possibility. There are a number of others. Which one is “best” and low cost enough to compete depends on too many factors to mention in a comment here. It takes teams of engineers with different specialties to properly analyze such things.

    Coming up with ideas is easy and cheap. Figuring out if they will work and how much they will cost is not.

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  6. Could vertical underwater fixed track and environmentally friendly flotation be used as a propellent to sling heavy spacecrafts from deep water. The space crafts could be encapsulated and racheted down a track inside a pressure proof cowling that splits at the surface allowing the rocket motors take over. This would allow for smaller fuel payloads and increasing cargo capacity.

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  7. So 1K spacecrafts taking off 3 times per day = ~3 take offs every 2 minutes. Hopefully liquid H for a fuel so that the lingering steamy contrail is just water vapor. There will be a year round fog down wind of the space port – hopefully that’s not my back yard. The space port in Mojave, CA could have a solar wind powered plant to crack H2O and produce the fuel; and, so long as we are now dreaming in color, salt water from the Pacific could be piped across the Sierras to a dry desert lake bed like the Owens Lake.

    The level of noise and the cloud bridge to the sky may warrant relocating the space port to a more suitable and slightly more remote location like China Lake or Panamint Valley so that pesky neighbors don’t picket 24/7s. The constant stream of returning crafts will also be performing 3 landings every 2 minutes, so that’s basically 3 crafts per minute which I suspect there is not a commercial airport anywhere in the world that has that level of sustained traffic.

    The refueling, loading, and maintenance and space traffic control logistics for 100 takeoffs and landings per day would be unimaginable, let alone that by a factor of 10, so 1 assumption is that there would be about 10 space ports to handle the traffic. Cargo drops in orbit would also require some thought – like cruise missle propelled forklifts to Fed-ex space pallets to their delivery points and returning for more.

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  8. I think Tom is unfairly criticized for that comment.

    First of all, he is speaking present tense. There IS a world market.

    Well, in 1943 a computer was something the size of an office building and 10 times the price, that was largely used for calculating artillery tables and code breaking. And needed a thousand experts to keep it running. The world market WAS kind of small.

    What we have today are completely different machines, and it’s only for historical reasons that we still use the same name “computers” as what he was using.

    Secondly, 1943 was an unusual period of time as far as world trade was concerned. The world market consisted of the USA, Canada, Australia, and the uninvaded parts of Britain. And the USSR but would the USA really give them access to their latest high tech? And expect them to have the resources to run it?

    No, when he said it he was right. Now if he’d said “there will never be a world market for more than 5 machines that can perform the sort of mathematical tasks we currently do with our giant computers ” that would have been wrong.

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  9. Mining in Australia is now being done largely by ‘ fly in, fly out’ workers, who go back somewhere civilised between stints. The big mining trucks are unmanned. With Antarctica much more hostile, and the Moon far worse again, why go to the huge expense of putting staff in in such an unlovely place, when you can automate ?

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  10. Surely one feature of a communication satellite is that you know where it is? So doing a launch without hitting one is a matter of looking up the locations?

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  11. Nextbigfuture believes that the likely scenario would be for Super Heavy Starships to make their fully reusable flights to orbit and then make their final reliable trip to Mars. A fleet of used Super Heavy Starships would gather every two years for the solar orbit window for the flight to Mars.

    Whatever the tweets meant, that’s what the NBF article written above meant.

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  12. Not so! Antarctica is lousy with untapped mineral resources. And if you’re going to be mining anyway, you don’t much care what the weather up top is like.

    The place would totally have been colonized by now if it weren’t illegal.

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  13. For anything short of terraforming, Mars atmosphere has 2.6% nitrogen by volume. Not much need for importing.

    (After the CO2 is condensed, N2 is ~55% of the rest, and Argon is 40%, so you can leave it at that and just add oxygen.)

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  14. Yes, but the two most abundant ones by far are hydrogen and helium, which don’t tend to stick around. The 3rd one is oxygen, which is only about 10 times more abundant than nitrogen. The 5th one, neon, also doesn’t stick around. Adjusting for that, I get an estimate of ~4% nitrogen in condensed primordial matter. Not as high as I thought, but still double from your number.

    Using the top ten table from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abundance_of_the_chemical_elements :

    O + C + Fe + N + Si + Mg + S = 18720 ppm
    H + He + Ne = 980340 ppm, leaving 940 ppm for everything else.

    Correcting for hydrogen using the simple ices H2O, CH4, NH3, H2S:
    10400 ppm * 2/16 + 4600 ppm * 4/12 + 960 ppm * 3/14 + 440 ppm * 2/32 = ~3100 ppm of the hydrogen is in ices.

    => 960 / (18720 + 940 + 3100) = 4.2% nitrogen.

    (edit: On top of that, the ice bodies will tend to be relatively enriched in volatiles, I think, so their nitrogen content should be higher than undifferentiated primordial matter. The heavier stuff should tend to concentrate towards the star.)

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  15. The only reason to live on Antarctica, as opposed to visiting it, is for nationalistic chest-beating. I think about one Chileno and one Argentine baby have been born on the Antarctic peninsular – which is far more forgiving than the rest of the continent, and orders of magnitude less hostile than Mars. I’m damn sure those kids will be growing up back in civilisation. Settlements on places like New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands were abandoned decades ago. Anyone who could afford to move there now, could buy somewhere much nicer for less.

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  16. In terms of speed of access, Titan is likely to be the best source for nitrogen for Mars. However, in terms of sheer delta V, not carrying about delivery time, Kuiper belt objects would prevail. You can get one to drop into the inner solar system with a ridiculously small delta V, and after that it’s just precise course control.

    Until teraforming really gets going, the chief need for nitrogen on Mars will be its biological role, and as a dilutant for breathing air. You won’t need gigatons of it until we’re trying to give the planet an atmosphere people can breath.

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  17. The thing is that comets are largely primordial material, barely processed, and nitrogen’s primordial abundance is pretty low; It’s under a tenth of a percent of the mass of the universe. Even iron is more common.

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  18. > Comets run to no more than maybe 2% nitrogen.

    I’d expect young comets and trans-neptunian objects to have more than that. Perhaps you’re confusing with asteroids, esp inner belt ones?

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  19. The frost line for ammonia should be further in, since its melting and boiling points are relatively high (but not as high as water, obviously).

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  20. Titan atmosphere is 94% nitrogen, and both Saturn and Jupiter have ammonia clouds. Their atmospheric ammonia is in the ~100-300 ppm range.

    Uranus is believed to have ammonia clouds and a water-ammonia mantle (with other volatiles mixed in; though it would probably be difficult to mine). Its moons should include ammonia ices as well.

    Further out there should be more ammonia and other nitrogen ices.

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  21. For now, SpaceX used up the backlog of customer payloads, so they had to build some of their own (Starlink). Payloads have not yet responded to the *existing* lower launch costs, much less what Starship could do.

    Once they do, people will figure out that off-planet mining makes sense, at which point the demand for launch will drop, because we make stuff in space from raw materials already there.

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  22. > Though I’m not sure about nitrogen.

    The “frost line” for water is in the middle of the asteroid belt. That’s the distance from the Sun for which the vapor pressure of water in a vacuum is low enough for a small body to retain it. Beyond the frost line, water is abundant.

    A similar frost line exists for every other material. The one for rock is somewhere inside of Mercury’s orbit. At that distance, everything evaporates. Around Neptune, it is cold enough for nitrogen to be retained. So Triton and Pluto have them.

    A deep gravity well will hold on to things despite it being too warm. Thus Earth has water, despite being inside the frost line, and the gas giants hold on to hydrogen and helium.

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  23. We space systems guys actually call it “gravity loss”, in meters/second compared to the ideal velocity of the rocket. The other major losses are drag and pressure. Drag should be obvious. Pressure loss is the outside atmosphere pressure times the nozzle exit area. That’s why you see rocket engine thrust quoted for sea-level and vacuum.

    A rocket has to be designed for the “ideal velocity” it would achieve in a vacuum with no gravity, so that in a real flight the actual velocity you reach after all the losses is the correct orbit.

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  24. That would be a very long term solution. More immediately, they’re going to need solar power satellites in stationary orbits, because until Mars can be given a decent atmosphere and magnetic field, people are going to be living underground anyway.

    In terms of infrastructure requirements you’re better off burying the greenhouses and lighting them with LEDs, rather than trying to rely on sunlight either direct or supplemented.

    Then they can start using solettas to locally increase sunlight, and eventually go with the L1 infrastructure.

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  25. I’d prefer any other solution to global warming rather than blanketing the planet, if only because one probably wouldn’t be able to leave it without getting hit by something

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  26. You could put a massive mirror at the L2 point, but then you’d mess up the circadian rhythms of any animals brought from Earth. I like the solution from the Mars Trilogy the best, an enormous focusing ring at the L1 point, with a hole in the middle the apparent diameter of the sun, with the mirror/lens thing around it making the sun appear the same apparent diameter as it is from Earth. It’d be huge, but so’s the task of terraforming.

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  27. Don’t know where my comment went, but if you added the whole mass of the Moon to Mars, assuming it kept the same density, you’d end up with a surface gravity of 3.8 m/s instead of 3.7 m/s. That’s not even a 3% increase.

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  28. You really, really need to run the numbers on these suggestions. Because they’re terrible.

    To give just one example, while Phobos subtends about one third the angle the Moon does, that makes the area one nineth as much. Then throw in the fact that sunlight is about half as bright at Mars due to greater distance from the Sun, and you’re at about 1/16 the available light, or so.

    Using tracking mirrors would help a bit, but the total available energy there just isn’t enough to make much difference.

    And Phobos orbits pretty quickly, you’d only have that light available for short stretches of the day.

    It gets worse from there…

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  29. If he can get the launch cost down to the point where SPS become cost-effective, you could see that exponential market growth.

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  30. There’s not enough mass on our moon to substantially increase Mars’. They have roughly the same densities, so if we assume that stays the same when you lay a load of Moon rock on the surface of Mars, you get a mass of 7.12E23 kg and a radius of 3534.7 km, vs Mars’ current mass of 6.39E23 kg and radius of 3389.5 km. That works out to 3.8 m/s and 3.7 m/s surface gravity respectively. So you’d fuck up our tides without any appreciable gains to Mars. The Phobos idea is nice, though, if you don’t plan on bringing any animals from Earth once you’ve terraformed it.

    You’re better off bringing mass from the asteroid belt to build a giant magnet to protect the atmosphere, then importing volatiles from comets, but even then there isn’t much. Most of the atmosphere would need to be ‘liberated’ from the crust.

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  31. I don’t know. Don’t the outer planets have lovely ice moons?
    They probably have more accessible water than anywhere else. Probably heaps of CO2 too.
    Though I’m not sure about nitrogen.

    H, C, N and O being the volatiles of most interest to us.

    I think it’s the INNER planets were we want scoop ships. For space stations and NEAs and Luna.

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  32. I don’t think that was the intent of the tweets – he was addressing launching to Earth orbit.

    And crewed Starships for Mars transit will be separate builds – not reconditioned satellite launchers or fuel tankers that will account for most of the launches. So they won’t be “retired” to Mars missions.

    And on the timescale Elon is addressing, the Starship ought to be replaced with specialized Mars transit ships that have far more space and are designed to handle the stresses of simulating gravity for passengers, and which probably transfer crew to a Starship at Mars rather than landing themselves.

    And cargo launches should probably shift to having the Starship give a payload a shove toward Mars and then return to Earth, and another Starship intercept it months later to finish delivery at Mars .

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  33. It’s not that you don’t need it for Mars, more that you DO need it for the outer planets, since there’s nowhere to land.

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  34. Mars needs more infrastructure before sending people there. Strategically placed reflective material on phobos tidally locked side to mars. At one third the diameter in the sky compared to our moon. If reflective it would shine roughly ten times brighter than our moon. The reflected light from our moon doesnt mean much to earth because of our thick atmosphere. Mars moon phobos is closer to its planet and mars atmosphere is roughly one hundreth times thinner. Meaning the reflected light there would be more effective. Have solar powered grader robots (or explosives!) Widdle down the tops of some mountains and hills to reduce cooling shadows from some of them. Take mass from our moon each trip to increase mars mass. Eventually more mass equals more gravity, more ability to hold more atmosphere, more atmosphere more ability to retain heat and protect against radiation. Then more reason to rinse and repeat to have an atmosphere that is more suitable for easier descent craft to produce more drag force during entry of anything they want to send to mars. Ish.

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  35. This all is based on an assumption that point to point is a viable market so when it all falls on flat on its face remember I told you so.

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  36. Remember back in 2017 that COO Shotwell was predicting 30 to 40 F9 launches per year by now, excluding launches of SpaceX’s own satellites. Unfortunately for Shotwell, her predicted increase in market demand for customer launches never materialized. https://spacenews.com/spacex-aims-to-follow-a-banner-year-with-an-even-faster-2018-launch-cadence/

    While I appreciate Mr. Musk’s optimistic outlook for his Starship project, it will likely face the same market demand problems as F9.

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  37. If you colonize Titan, which has several orders of magnitude more hydrocarbons that Saudi Arabia and the USA combined, you should get the US Marines supporting you.

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  38. Why would there be such a huge demand for space transportation ?
    There was never such a huge demand in history.
    Probably he was he stoned again

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  39. The oppression of a government trying to keep its people alive in the cruel Martian environment will be far greater than most current government on earth.

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  40. Old cargo can? OK.
    But 1,000 is a very big number when no rocket has done 10. It seems a bit early to make these projections. If you have one that has done 100 and going strong…

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  41. The rocket geek term for this is “gravity drag”. Generally, launchers with lower thrust to weight ratios incur more gravity drag, and therefore need to expend more delta-v, to get to orbit.

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  42. alright, but if they’re going to ship to Mars between 1% and 10% (10-200 tons per person for 100k people) of what they put in orbit every year, what is the remaining 90-99%? Satellites + orbital stations + lunar missions + fast suborbital commercial passenger flights? If you put 90-99 megatons in orbit every year, it’s not going to take many years to blanket the planet to the point it gets shadowy down here… (I’m joking, but you get the point)

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  43. I am making the assumption that Musk plans to do this in his lifetime, but that would require exponential market growth to support that idea. I don’t see this ability being possible for another 30 years or more, unless there is the market equivalent of a gold rush. That would be wonderful, but very unlikely IMHO.

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  44. Again, sounds good. I am still a major skeptic regarding the crazy high numbers of lunches per Starship lifetime. However, what is particularly cool about SpaceX and Elon Musk is that we have a very good chance of seeing how this massive spaceship will actually perform, in payload, cost, launch rate and durability, because he will actually build it! Interesting times indeed.

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  45. You’d certainly be targeting Mars with comets for teraforming, but comets would bring in a lot of water for each gram of nitrogen that arrived that way. Comets run to no more than maybe 2% nitrogen.

    Mars is going to be nitrogen poor for a very long time.

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  46. They do plan to manufacture it locally. Any interplanetary colonization effort has to use as much local resources as possible. A thousand tons per capita does seem more than a little bit high. I mean, the initial part of the buildout before they have indigenous manufacturing capacity will be cargo heavy, but nothing like that. Later I’d expect to see more like 10-20 tons per person, not a thousand.

    But I think you misunderstood: The 100 megatons per year is total to ORBIT, for all purposes, it’s not the amount of stuff to be shipped to Mars.

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  47. They’re not going to do any such thing until the Starship is proven to work. And then the ramp up will have to be consistent with their resources; If StarLink catches on, they’ll have the resources to do things that will drop costs to orbit even further, and can open up other markets that will make feasible, such as solar power satellites.

    The shortage of launch windows is real, but in large part it’s an artifact of a regulatory environment that assumes rocket launches will be very rare. You don’t shut down huge swaths of airspace just to launch an airliner, at some point we’re going to have to treat rocket launches the same way.

    Partly that will be resolved by more reasonable management of airspace, and partly by upsizing the rockets; They can’t be made much taller, but they can have their payload increased quite a bit by making them wider.

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  48. well, for sure, but I thought that there were some economies of scale in shipping people by the hundreds.
    I had estimated that the fuel per person per trip would be in the tens of tons. Similarly, for the habitat (think about an RV for each). Add shielding. Add a few tons of food supplies and a few tons (or tens of tons) of on-ground gas/liquid recycling systems, agriculture gear, mining tools, 3D printers and what not. Add also the fuel for the way back, assuming they’re not going to manufacture it locally. You end up with 100-200 tons per person, hypothesizing a certain largesse (call it prudence if you please). This figure is still higher by a factor of 10: is that a sort of additional prudence margin for the sake of it? Perhaps a way to underpromise, in order to overdeliver later?

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  49. 1000 ships in 5 launch windows.
    I don’t think the infrastructure will support that level of activity for a long while. If this were a serious proposition, I think we would see plans for launching say- 10 Starships in phase one, 50 Starships in phase two, etc.
    All SpaceX resources would be diverted to those launches.

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  50. Thirsty, hungry, oxygen-loving, bored, cold, sick, atrophying, inquisitive, scientific, hi-scale communicative, associative, collaborative. 

    The first bunch of factors require mass. That mass requires packaging mass. They together require stowage spaces, ship mass. Ship-plus-payload-plus-life-support requires thrust, energy, scaling of engines, power.  

    And of course, if one’s contemplating Going To Mars, which at BEST is a 80,000,000 km trip, if the bucket-of-bolts taking you there is going at 10 km/s (inter-planetary), then you’ve still got 8,000,000 seconds, or 90 days of ship-board life support.  

    AND you have all the UPS and Fedex packages going to Mars, LOL-case. You’ve got all the hard-to-conjure foodstuffs, medical supplies, fertilizers, plastic tubing, chips and electrical parts, the tooling, the replacement-for-broken things. You’ve got parts to make parts to fix parts to do stuff. 

    Because unlike Star Theatre, ALL interplanetary trips are FREIGHTER trips. 100%, without exception, once Humans have a semi-permanent presence on the Red Planet.  

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

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  51. WELL… this comment “went away” for some reason. 
    —–—
    To whomever proposed ”just go with lower-G flights so that more people could take the thing transcontinentally”… I think the primary problem with lower-G flights is the “if thrust were balanced with mass, you’d go no-where, but you’d also use up all the fuel!” problem. 

    Think about a “mind exercise” spacecraft, powered by electricity, (“Mach’s Effect!”), having enough electrical generating capacity and reactionless thrusters to just barely counter the mass of the whole contraption on the launch pad.  

    Maybe it goes up a couple of meters, and then just sits there. Balanced on its bûm, burning gigawatts of energy.  Eventually the energy stores fail, and the thing falls back down on the pad.  

    Sad. … but illustrative.

    It is the “imagination case” that demonstrates why having HIGHER G acceleration is energetically FAR superior to a close-to–1-G path. The closer to 1 G you get, the more energy is just wasted.  

    And to MindBreaker, also whose comment was lost, yes … as I said, this is a straw-man argument. But it does quite effectively show how the waste-of-thrust happens. I’m inclined to ”do formulae” for all y’all, but I also get the impression that few care much about that.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

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  52. “100 megatons/year or maybe around 100k people per Earth-Mars orbital sync”

    Earth-Mars orbital sync: about every 2 years

    In 2 years you’ll have 200,000,000 tons of gear in orbit (or destination?), for 100,000 people. If I’m not making any math mistake, that means 2,000 tons (roughly equivalent to a 70m long cargo ship) of gear per person. Sounds like those wannabe martians are kinda needy eh?

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  53. Allegedly, each Starship has a capacity of 1000 launches per year. He also said that a Starship should have an expected lifetime of 20-30 years, comparably to a modern commercial airplane.

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  54. I think he is referring to cargo. The same configuration should work for both earth to LEO as earth to Mars.

    I agree that passenger trips should not use near-retirement vessels.

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  55. Your information is outdated, beneath that thin layer of frozen CO2 there is a vast amount of water ice.

    Google for the SHARAD radar results on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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  56. I agree that is sounds like he is saying he is going to make cars that will go 20 million miles and then drive them from Prudhoe Bay to Tierra Del Fuego. That does not sound like the safest road trip, even if some small fraction of cars make it to 20 million miles before they have to be retired.

    And the needs of the rockets going to Mars are going to be different than the needs of rockets going from N.Y. to Sydney. The entire interior would need to be different. Less hassle and more assuring to just build the rockets for the role they are intended to fill.

    Don’t think I would want to spend months on a rocket that a thousand people barfed in, and a million people farted in.

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  57. Elon said he plannes for starship to have a cost of 2 million USD per launch. Assuming the 150t final design goal, that would be 13.3USD per kg.

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  58. But at least if you colonize Mars you don’t get a butt load of marines showing up to evict you.

    One of the chief motivations for colonizing space is to get away from Earth governments. Antarctica would already have been colonized if the world powers hadn’t agreed to forbid it because they couldn’t settle the matter of who would get it.

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  59. 100 million tons per year…

    Check the numbers… With a very much optimistic price of 500$ per kilogram to orbit that’s mean
    500 * 1000 (kg/tn) * 100.000.000 = 50 trillion $ PER YEAR

    That isn’t gonna happen.

    Humankind isn’t gonna spend more than 2% of economy resources in space at least until space economy pay for itself operations.
    The world economy is around 100 trillion $ per year, so a reasonable limit is 2 trillion per year.

    So… Or they reach 10$/kg to orbit (HA!) or they need to lower the numbers 50 times at least.

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  60. No, I think the point was to send 1000 ships to Mars in total over 10 years, not to have an active fleet of 1000 at any given time. The trip to Mars is the retirement trip. So they could launch it 3 times a day, then pull it after 999 flights and have it mothballed until the Earth-Mars launch window comes up. That happens about 4 times a decade, so we’d end up sending fleets of roughly 250 each time.

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  61. there isn’t any difference between -60 and -180… both are impossible for humans to live in unless they are inside a heated shelter….

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  62. The Ancient Egyptians could have 3D printed them out of diamond. We develop that technology, we can get to Sirius and meet our ancestors face to face.

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  63. Any granny worth her salt would rather be on the same planet as her mokopuna, and even the same continent ; babysitting from the Moon ain’t the same.

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  64. It’s best to rise a bit slower at the beginning to not waste energy on air friction. There’s a formula for that After the thin air is reached you hit that! Kerbel shows that.

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  65. You have to break it up
    into two parts. Booster only fires for five minutes and comes home. Ok there might be a few more starship upper sections. Or 100 of them and more boosters? Just a thought. By the time that next one goes up the first one could be unloading it’s fuel. There is two cycles happening concurrently

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  66. Starlink = Shipload of cash.

    That cash will start coming in soon and be building up while the first Starships tentatively make their way to Mars. By the time that large inflatables are being inflated on Mars, a “shipload” of cash will be available to fund it.

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  67. 1,000 Starship roundtrips to the Moon @ 2 weeks per round trip x 100 passengers per trip over 26 months = 5.5 million tickets sold within the same time period as using that same number of Starships going to Mars.

    The people moving off Earth:

    • Lived long enough to afford the ticket
    • Free from child rearing responsibilities
    • Free from occupational responsibilities

    IOW, retirees will be very over-represented among the early settlers.

    How important will it be to grandmothers to be in interactive contact with their children and grandchildren? The Moon offers that and Mars doesn’t. I think it inevitable that these factors will come to dominate how the Starship actually gets used.

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  68. Do a search for “atmospheric scoop” to get lots of pages discussing this concept.

    But you don’t need it for Mars. Mars already appears to have heaps of water, so the hydrogen, oxygen and carbon is already available.

    Gathering oxygen and nitrogen from the Earth’s atmosphere to supply orbital and lunar colonies makes more sense. But even there, the rapid improvement in Earth-to-orbit launch costs mean it isn’t appropriate until you are dealing with huge amounts of air.

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  69. Timing is also unfortunate, as the much anticipated crisis will scare the plume out of every single potential customer.

    What crisis?

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  70. Intriguing as it is, there are currently no payloads for 1Mtpa. Even if 90% of that is fuel for long flights, it is still far beyond all current deep space plans combined.
    Unless SpaceX has a starship load of cash ready to commence Mars invasion, it will take many years for demand to grow to that level. Timing is also unfortunate, as the much anticipated crisis will scare the plume out of every single potential customer. Even Bezos may see his net worth halved again, and he is the only man with vision that requires such payloads. Still, even if Bezos is intact, technology is very far from ready to commence space construction at Bezos vision scale.

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  71. Couldn’t find the G numbers for the Falcon heavy, which is probably the best match. Near as I can gather, the Saturn 5 did not hit 2 Gs until it was at about 20 km up…and obviously they were going as efficiently as they could. Granted that was probably only going 1,000 mph at that point, but there is plenty of time to get to 5,750 mph. And that would not take long maintaining an acceleration of 2 Gs or even 1.5 Gs.

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  72. Distance – 7 months (Mars) vs 7 years (Titan) – apart from intial expense to get there, if something goes wrong I’d rather be on Mars
    Temperature – -60deg (Mars) vs -180 deg (Titan) – factor of 3 is huge to compensate for + Mars equator can get to +20C.
    Light – Mars (44% of Earth) vs Titan (0.1% of Earth) – i.e. Titan is very very dark & solar power can’t be used

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  73. Bit of a straw man there Goat. Obviously, zero acceleration when you want to get somewhere is not a brilliant plan. You can rev your Yugo in your driveway for 8 hours too and surprise…you don’t go.
    One or even a half a G beyond gravity is not trivial acceleration and as the rocket goes more horizontal the acceleration can go up while maintaining that G comfort level. A 747 makes an additional 0.2 Gs during takeoff and certainly goes somewhere.
    You can afford to loose a little efficiency, because you are not trying to go 17,000 mph. How much less energy is required to get to 5,750 mph? 5,750 mph is far faster than other transport options and would certainly get a lot of ridership. Planes go at about 575 mph. 10x the speed, I think is a winner.
    Most of the high G stuff in rockets is not immediate. It is after quite a bit of fuel has been burned and you are trying to get to very high altitude and very high speed. You don’t need that. You get above 99% of the atmosphere (20 miles) and just cruise. You don’t need a ballistic trajectory. Heck, 10 miles might be good enough.

    You forgot your trademark math. Bet this works out just fine.

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  74. Mars has plenty of water for anything that will be needed in the next fifty years. It just does not have enough for terraforming.

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  75. A constellation of space habs and orbital hotels would be the perfect destinations for the rockets that can go to space thrice a day.

    For business (free fall manufacturing still has to take flight) of for sight seeing, it is the most immediate and logical destination for all those crew and cargo capabilities.

    Gee, they could start making some rotating ones, to show you can have Earth like conditions of living in space.

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  76. I always wonder if you could create An autonomous starship that could slingshot around Jupiter while lowering a scoop to graze the top of the atmosphere to fill tanks with hydrogen…then race back to mars with tanks full of hydrogen for making water and fuel…

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  77. I think the primary problem with lower-G flights is the “if thrust were balanced with mass, you’d go no-where, but you’d also use up all the fuel!” problem. 

    Think about a completely “mind exercise” spacecraft, powered by electricity, (“Mach’s Effect!”), having enough electrical generating capacity and reactionless thrusters to just barely counter the mass of the whole contraption on the launch pad.  

    Maybe it goes up a couple of meters, and then just sits there. 
    Balanced on its bûm, burning gigawatts of energy.  
    Eventually the energy stores fail, and the thing falls back down on the pad.  

    Sad.

    Well, it is the “image case” that demonstrates why having HIGHER G acceleration is energetically FAR superior to a close-to–1-G path. The closer to 1 G you get, the more energy is just wasted.  

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

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  78. Maybe Elon knows something about still-secret rejuvenation tech about to be released? If you can afford a suborbital flight you can afford to be rejuved back to your 40s or 20s or whatever stage was healthy enough to do the flight.

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  79. You don’t need that kind of acceleration if you are not trying to go into orbit. Going slower is not hard. And it will save fuel. I think they can limit it to 2 Gs. They could also have some flights for those who don’t want the heavy G forces. Say 1.5 Gs. Pay a little more for the Kenny G run.

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  80. The reason it takes a while to get to the ISS is due to the difference in the inclination of the orbit. if you can keep the orbital inclination very low, then you would have a chance to rendezvous every 90 minutes so with instant launch window, you could have the super heavy booster return, refuel and be ready to launch by the time that the 1st Starship circles around

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  81. If each Starship is good for 1000 launches and it launches 3 times a day then it uses up all its lifetime of launches in one year. So building 100 Starships per year builds up to to a maximum fleet of 100 at the end of the year by which time the ones built at the beginning of the year will be retired out. So the 100 ships built each year just maintains that 100 ship fleet in various stages of consumption in perpetuity. To reach a fleet of 1000 at a 100 ship build rate would require each to last 10,000 flights.
    Will the Raptor engines last as long as even 1000 launches? That is an unsettled question to say the least. During the last Starhopper launch, the Raptor seemed to be burning itself up at the end of the one minute flight. One of the two turbine pumps on each engine has super hot oxygen pumping through it, basically a cutting torch. The Space Shuttle could hardly do one flight before having its engines rebuilt and it did not have hot oxygen pumping through it. I hope it will last a thousand flights but we will see.

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  82. Reply to myself: Mr Musk might still be holding on to the whole ballistic NY-Shanghai dream and be using that for the 3 flights a day. Three hops across the ol rock, not 3 trips off of the ol rock.

    There are lots of reasons why it won’t happen. While i’m in good enough shape to take a 3-4g ascent and would love the zero g coasting period most people aren’t up for either.

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  83. “SpaceX is targeting for each fully reusable Starship to fly 3 flights per day.”

    Where in LEO can you get to and back in say 7 hours (leaving a whole hour for starship reattachment and refueling)? The record for reaching ISS is 6 hours which doesn’t leave much time for the return to Earth.

    Either this is wildly aspirational or Mr Musk is planning on making a whole constellation of LEO habitats. I’m hoping for the latter.

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