Sky Full of Starships

Let us assume that the SpaceX Starship is a complete fully reusable success that achieves mass production.

Elon has talked about making 2 Starships each week in 2021 and reaching a cost of $5 million. The Steel will be a new SpaceX alloy and will cost about $3 per kilogram. Each Starship will weigh about 85 tons this would be $300,000 worth of steel. The six Raptor engines will need to drop to about $500K each. There would be about $2 million of other gear.

Elon has talked about making 1000 SpaceX Starships over ten years. However, if they reach production levels of 100 in say 2023, then they would likely surpass that production rate and head toward the production rate of commercial jets. This would be about 1000-2000 every year. If the $5 million each target is hit then the SpaceX starship would be cheaper than commercial planes. They would be able to move 100 tons of cargo at 20 times the speed of jets. All air cargo movement over 1500 miles would shift over to Starships.

Each Starship has more than the volume of the International Space Station and would be built to provide human inhabitants safe living environments in space. The Space station was built with 36 Shuttle Launches. Every single launch of Starship Super Heavy can place an equivalent station into space.

A version is being built to land on the moon.

Three Starship can be connected. One would be the center and two could rotate for simulated gravity.

Thirty to forty years ago there many designs for space stations based on shuttle fuel tanks. The external fuel tank was about the size of the SpaceX Starship. However, the Starship would not need to be adapted for Space Station usage like the external fuel tank concepts.

A Space Station using 50 SpaceX Starships, would only cost about $5 million for the vehicle and $2 million for the launch. This would be about $350 million for the hardware, plus some docking and connections.

Using 300 SpaceX Starship would only cost about $2.1 billion for the hardware. This would be volume comparable to a cruise ship.

Large cruise ships cost about $1 billion.

Once fuel is being produced on the moon, then fuel costs from orbit to the moon would not be much more than going from earth to orbit.

This would mean it would cost about $10 billion to land about 300 SpaceX Starships for a massive lunar base.

We should be putting SpaceX Starships everywhere in Cislunar space, several as Mars Cyclers, moon bases and Mars bases.

One thousand starships each moving 100 tons would be about the 104,000 tons of supplies used for the first five days after the World War 2 D-Day invasion.

This is the scale of supplies we could have in orbit and on the moon to provide the equipment and mining supplies we need.

Also, all of the mass would mean plenty of water and material for radiation shielding.

We would have simulated gravity from rotation.

We could make a version of the Gateway Foundation Voyager Station.

A sky full of SpaceX Starships by 2030 can give us all of the moon bases, orbital bases and hotels and Mars bases that space dreamers have wanted since the 1960s.

SOURCES – SpaceX, Gateway Foundation
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

89 thoughts on “Sky Full of Starships”

  1. I wasn’t even considering anything above 100-200 km as part of the atmosphere. Technically, yes, there’s still some atmospheric drag at that altitude. But it’s practically a high grade vacuum.

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  2. The higher you get the the atmosphere, the more it’s dominated by light gasses. But, yes, you have to get pretty high before Hydrogen is a significant component. At which point it’s so thin scooping is kind of futile.

    Oxygen is your best bet if you’re scooping Earth’s atmosphere, and fortunately it is most of the mass of chemical rocket fuel. If you were to set up an atmospheric scoop around Earth, that would be your primary output.

    http://wordpress.mrreid.org/2014/08/01/the-composition-of-earths-atmosphere-with-elevation/

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  3. I responded above, but an added note: Refueling in the center would take a lot of pipe. A LOT of pipe, if I didn’t mess up my spar-length calculations too badly.

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  4. That’s more sensible than the typical ‘spinning fuel station’ vision, though such a structure could swing like a pendulum, making docking to a fuel tank a bit harder.

    And have you calculated how long the spar would need to be to have sufficient settling effect – say 1/1000th of 1G? I did a quick calc and might have got it wrong, but I think it would be several hundred km?

    Any structure with enough spin to settle fuel will have enough ‘gravity’ to launch anything that gets loose – fuel, construction materials or tools, humans… And it needs to be stronger and so heavier than any structure that doesn’t spin.

    Why bother? Limit spin to just what needs spinning, just when it needs to spin.

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  5. Guys. See my comment above: You rotate the facility once per orbit. IOW, it’s set up with two groups of tanks with a spar in between, tidally locked to the Earth.

    That handles the stability issues, if you add a tank to one end, all that happens is that the center of gravity shifts up or down a little. And you’d have to move the fuel absurdly fast in order to cause any stability issues when you’re only rotating once every 90 minutes or more, and are tidally locked to boot.

    You can either refuel in the center, in an actual orbit, or dock at either end if you want a tiny bit of acceleration to help with the refueling. The two ends are in forced orbits that correspond to the apogee and perigee of very mildly elliptical orbits, docking should be no real problem.

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  6. “Other than fuel transfers”

    And what is the end purpose of orbital tank farms, again? Fuel transfers, ultimately. For that purpose you need the fuel separate from the pressurizing gas, and bladders don’t really work at cryogenic temperatures.

    I’m not proposing that it rotate very fast. In fact, what I’d propose is that it rotate once per orbit. Separate the tanks into two groups, separated by a long spar, and gravitationally locked to the Earth. The loading and unloading point could be in the center of the spar.

    That would be enough to make sure the fuel would reliably be found in the same end of the tank all the time.

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  7. If each pair of tanks can spin independently, you can add more pairs while only spinning the axis. Or you can spin up the pair before docking it.

    Of course, there are other solutions, including the one you propose. The engineers will decide.

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  8. Maybe.

    Now add a tank to expand your capacity. You have to add that tank to the structure while it is spinning – which can get awkward fast if anything goes wrong. And you then still have to pump fuel around to rebalance – and do it quickly because that new tank has shifted the spinning structure’s balance.

    And if the whole structure has to be expanded to make room for more tanks because you’ve been so successful, you have to do that construction while spinning or else shut down operations for the duration.

    Or, you just let the tanks float peacefully and safely in free-fall with only minimal structure to keep them in place. And when you want to use a tank, you detach it and move it gently off to the side, attach it to whatever you’re transferring fuel with, and gently spin just those.

    You won’t even need to use gas thrusters much – a gentle mechanical push to get it away from the other tanks, a braking-tether to slow it precisely into position, maybe a few electric-powered gyroscopes attached to the tank to get the orientation right and counter any motions from sloshing fuel and later to spin a pair of tanks to settle fuel for transfer.

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  9. In the short term, yes. But note that high Isp drives are also what you want for asteroid mining (or any sort of cargo missions), so atmo scoops would still need to compete with asteroids even if we didn’t have high thrust engines. And you can launch stuff off the Moon with a mass driver – if you can land first.

    In the longer term, there are at least two more use cases:

    1. Once we have fusion rockets, refueling them at the gas or ice giants becomes both more feasible and desirable. Esp with CNO fusion, where we don’t have to separate the isotopes.

    2. Once we have a good process for splitting off and using the carbon of CO2 to make high-strength carbon materials (in the graphene and CNT class) without the help of hydrogen (or only using it catalytically), the Martian and esp Venusian atmospheres become a lot more interesting. Nanotech would be very helpful here, but more primitive processes can work too.

    The Venusian atmo is particularly interesting because it’s much more concentrated, and also because you can easily make breathable air out of it, which can then float inside the atmosphere, at an altitude where the temperature and pressure are similar to Earth. So you don’t have to maintain an orbit, and can scoop from a denser location. But then you’d still need to launch the products somehow. Maybe with a mass driver?

    The breathable air is a byproduct of extracting carbon (3.5% nitrogen in the atmo, most of the rest is CO2), so you more or less get it for free.

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  10. Other than fuel transfers (covered in my post) why do you need to settle fuel?

    Spinning the whole tank farm just adds complexity (and structural mass and construction cost, etc), especially since you’ll be wanting to expand it over time.

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  11. So… in conclusion, the atmo scoop, (in this solar system at least) only makes sense if you are limited to high ISP, low thrust drives.

    It can provide reaction mass for your drive, or it can provide breathable atmosphere (Earth) or CO2 (which gives oxygen (the largest mass of the fuel/oxygen system, AND it’s breathable) and carbon (building material).

    It might be viable if you’ve built a cubic km or more of giant space habitat, and now need to fill it with air.

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  12. Yes, that’s why I mentioned atmospheric drag. I suppose, if you have a long input pipe anyway, that might double as an electrodynamic tether. Don’t know if the lengths match, though. Probably depends on the electric parameters. Very roughly speaking, the cryocoolers are just more pumps and heat exchangers, I think..

    In the longer run, the question of location is probably better determined by what it is that you’re planning to scoop, and the economics of alt sources. Venus and Mars will mostly give CO2, which isn’t very useful without hydrogen (there are ways to use it, but it’s a lot easier and more useful with hydrogen).

    Jupiter would give mostly hydrogen, but short of fusion rockets, it’s probably too far away. If we can manage CNO fusion, we can use the hydrogen as is, but even easier forms of fusion are still nearly sci-fi. Jupiter’s surface gravity is 2.5g, but with a fusion rocket that may be ok.

    Saturn’s surface gravity is closer to 1g, but it’s even farther away. Also gives mostly hydrogen, but if you’re there, you can also get nitrogen or methane from Titan.

    In cislunar space, you may be better off getting oxygen from Lunar soil than from Earth. Can launch it with a catapult or mass driver.

    For hydrogen, either Lunar water or carbonaceous asteroids. The latter also give carbon, so no need for CO2 in that case. (And of course, if you don’t mind landing on Mars, you get both water and CO2, but again, you don’t need a scoop for that.)

    Not much H in Earth atmo.

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  13. The scoop has to have a propulsion system, too, to counter drag. Otherwise it falls out of orbit before collecting much. And it can’t be a chemical propulsion system, trivially, because you’d spend more fuel on station keeping than you scooped up. It has to be a relatively high ISP ion or plasma system, or electrodynamic tether. And unless you want your tankage to be enormous, you need cryocoolers, too.

    Earth is a bad candidate for a scoop system right now, because launch costs are coming down. Mars would be a bad candidate because launching to orbit from Mars is relatively easy. The gas giants are bad candidates because the atmosphere is WAY down in the gravity well. Venus? Might be a good candidate.

    I could see a scoop system around earth providing Oxygen, with the fuel still being launched in rockets. Eventually. Maybe launch carbon with mass drivers, and scoop both oxygen and hydrogen. But, by the time there’s enough space traffic to justify it, would we still be using chemical rockets?

    If I had a billion dollars to burn, building an atmospheric scoop, with a plan of selling LOX in orbit to Musk, would be a fun way to burn it.

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  14. A fuel plant on Mars is just a water electrolyser, a Sabatier reactor, and some pumps. Those are all fairly simple and proven technologies. The launching infrastructure is just a Starship. The tricky part is digging up the water, but that too is relatively simple.

    Whereas an atmospheric scoop is a whole new dedicated spacecraft design, and you’d still need the reactor and pumps to make fuel, and you’d still need to get hydrogen somehow. There’s barely any hydrogen in Mars’ atmosphere.

    So I would say a surface fuel plant on Mars in nearer term that an a scoop-based plant.

    Even if you just want the CO2 – landing a tanker Starship with a pump is a lot easier than designing and building a whole new spacecraft. Except you’d still need to refuel it.

    So it comes down to brand new spacecraft design (atmo scoop) vs new bulldozers design to dig up water for the fuel plant, and scaled-up versions of proven hardware that’s already running on the ISS (electrolyser and Sabatier). I’m not counting the Starship, since you’re going to need it either way.

    edit: Unless the scoop is just a long pipe and a pump, but is it really that simple? There’s atmospheric drag and friction heating to consider, at least.

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  15. The difference being that an atmo scoop can be built on Earth and launched to Mars now(ish). While building extraction and launching infrastructure on another planet, while certainly our long term goal, is just that: long term.

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  16. Having cargo so high up (about 30m) on Starship Lander still bugs me. Makes unloading cargo slow and awkward and using Starship Lander as a temporary hab more of a pain.

    Maybe use side pods that are just the top halves of two Starships sent to LLO, detached from delivery ships and attached to the sides of the lander. Land and (optionally) lower the pods a few meters to the surface as permanent habs. Not likely this would work for Mars due to its atmosphere, but could be OK for the moon.

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  17. Initially, use Starships. They should get FAR more material into LEO from Moon than Earth, my initial point.

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  18. Besides it might turn out there is ice or hydrated minerals in Phobos, so it would be easy to make fuel/propellant there

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  19. Not initially. Mass drivers on the moon or a space elevator to lunar orbit would be excellent. The ability to get bulk Fe/Al/Ti off of the moon and to LEO using a lunar elevator and solar electric tugs would be fantastic.

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  20. Jupiter orbit? For sure.
    Mars orbit? It is so easy to launch bulk stuff from Mars and to build infrastructure to extract fuel/oxidizer in bulk on the surface.

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  21. That’s a product of our detection capabilities, which we need to improve. NEO/TCOs should follow the usual power law, with convenient sized ones actually being more common. It’s just that we can’t SEE those ones yet, with our current detection capabilities.

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  22. It absolutely would be worth returning them. At $1M/engine that’s close to $700 a kilo. And engines that have already gotten past their “infant mortality” are the best engines; They’ve got most of their working life still, and are the most reliable.

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  23. Problem is, dedicated lifepods have no dual use. I’d make the “lifepod” segments the sleeping areas, so you’re already in them if it comes apart while you’re sleeping.

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  24. Ah, but the Bigelow modules, (FYI, they just laid off their entire workforce, and there are questions as to whether they’ll resume operations or it’s permanent.) are cargo, contribute nothing to the function of the rocket carrying them, which means they can only be a tiny, tiny fraction of the total wet weight of the rocket.

    Whereas if you use the rocket itself, it might not be perfectly idea, but it can be a much, much bigger fraction of the launch weight.

    That’s a pretty serious advantage.

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  25. If you’re building a dedicated fuel depot, spinning the whole thing might be a problem, since any time you add or remove fuel you shift the balance. Could start to tumble chaotically.

    Seems wiser to just separate a tank and spin it a bit while attached to a Starship or another tank for transfers. Matches the Starship refueling scheme, so it’d be an easy transition.

    For that matter, you could build the depot out of Starship tankers – no new specialized hardware required.

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  26. Lots of wires and pipes and of course pressurized human passages that’d all need to be ‘cut’ somehow, and the separation has to be automated and able to function even if the ring is has already come partially apart and everything is flexing wildly.
    I’d also worry that a station will get expanded/evolved over time. Someone making a change might not fully take into account the effects of that change on safe separation.
    A dedicated lifepod seems simpler and more reliable.

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  27. Agreed, but like lifeboats, the evacuation pods shouldn’t need to travel all the way ‘home’. They just need to get away from a potentially self-disassembling station and keep people alive long enough to be picked up by a rescue ship.

    The problem with that for ‘lifepods’ on a rotating station is that they would quickly scatter too far and in too many directions, if just released. So they’ll need a small, completely automated, controllable rocket with very long shelf-life, to slow down and maybe rendezvous with others at a safe distance.

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  28. Using Starship as a component seems wasteful. Even if you detach the engines for later reuse. I am with you and prefer Bigelow modules.

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  29. At the estimated $500k – $1m per engine, it would not be worth the labour and transport to return them. Just use them as extra mass for radiation shielding or something.

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  30. I love the atmo scoops.
    But I believe the current numbers are that the cost of building and launching a scoop, divided by the expected yield of tonnes/year, works out as not cheaper than the projected spaceX launch costs to just send a tank of liquid air from Earth.

    Where the atmo scoops really shine is getting a nice tank of gas in Mars orbit, or Venus or Jupiter. Where sending a new tank from Earth is prohibitive.

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  31. By definition, you always witness history in the making.
    Just that sometimes the historical record is that “things continued much the same for that decade”

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  32. Having one large evacuation vehicle assumes that, whatever causes the evac, it does not stop people from being able to travel through your space station and all get into the one ship.

    Emergency evacuation facilities should be dispersed, with multiple access points, and not have single points of failure.

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  33. If we include oil drilling, oyster farming, let alone fishing, underwater industry has been exploited a huge amount for literally millenia.

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  34. It’s crazy to think airliners might all get replaced by starships. 🙂
    We all thought Boeing had a rough 2019-20…but the future looks even worst for them, lol.
    I watch starship updates everyday…it’s not very often you get to witness history in the making.

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  35. you gave me a million bucks I would buy 10 houses at 100k a pop. Then I would sell the houses for 110k each and make 100k profit. Then I would buy 11 houses for 100k a pop and sell them again at 110k each. Then I would buy houses at 200k a pop and sell them for 220k each. You get the picture.

    Can you give me a million bucks?

    BTW, I like Elon Musk. He’s doing some amazing things and long may he continue.

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  36. A simplistic mindset that doesn´t take into account that some demands ONLY exist when the cost is cheap enough.

    The cost, even with Falcon Heavy, of missions to build something on the Moon, or to explore the minerals of asteroids worth quadrillions of dollars, are still too high.

    There is no demand for space tourism because a ticket is 50 million dollars.

    There is no demand for a radiotelescope on the far side of the Moon, because it would probably cost over $500 billion right now.

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  37. Not to disagree, but the needs we have are so tiny at first that the main problem is finding NEO/TCOs that are SMALL enuf to be of use! The stuff we know about is generally *astronomical* in scale. Lunar craters may be the bingo, as we are going to the Moon anyway, for various reasons, and can cooperate between projects for infrastructure. Things are finally happening,. In Space.

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  38. 16 Psyche will become a pivotal operation if the ‘Angry Astronaut’ is correct that the Mars colonization effort turns to this asteroid for space sourced materials and early revenue generation.

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  39. “we can imagine extremely important cargo that would benefit from rapid delivery”

    You mean like several squads of Marines and their powered armor?

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  40. That’s my thinking. Rather than making expensive inflatable structures you would just ship the bulk metal and insulation to space, print up sections and attach them together to make the rotating station.

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  41. I guess they’re envisioning a scenario where the whole thing suddenly goes to pieces, so you need “escape pods” attached to every segment. It’s not very realistic; While a spinning habitat could sustain damage that would destabilize it, there are better ways to deal with that.

    Just designate every third segment as a “life boat”, and equip it with several days independent life support, and maneuvering jets capable of stabilizing it after firing explosive bolts to cut it loose.

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  42. Yes, but it wasn’t mentioned who will be paying to charter 1 Starship per day to the moon and for what purpose. Is there a proverbial anchor tenant?

    Is all this optimistic talk just a case of “if you build it, they will come”.

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  43. I envisage this being one of the biggest early markets.

    Selling lunar and Martian trips for space agencies abroad at a few hundred million USD a-piece, allowing these nations to say “the first X citizen on the Moon/Mars”, for any X country that is not under USA embargo.

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  44. They could use the bulk of the Starships to build space stations. Just remove the engines and return those to earth in another Starship. Pump out and store the excess fuel and O2. And cut holes in the tanks to clear internal space.

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  45. Elon should sell trips to space to countries who have never put a man in space before, which is most of them. Maybe even sell a trip to the moon. These countries will be able to beat their chest and say they are as good as the USA, China and Russia.

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  46. This cut, weld and reassemble capability is really new for space technologies, which are so far made of exotic, one-of-a-kind designs and materials that require a full mission to be brought to space, and another to get them fixed (mostly replaced).

    Contrarily to science fiction, which has been depicting space welders and grease monkeys since day 1.

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  47. Passenger jets are not being built at a set blown up quota. Only in Communist China production is set like that.

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  48. We do need to up our game on trash collection.

    But the Kessler syndrome scenario isn’t actually that bad for solar system exploitation; It’s just LEO that’s rendered unusable for long term orbits, passing through LEO is still relatively safe.

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  49. One of the advantages of building a welded spacecraft out of stainless steel, is that the potential is there to build special purpose craft.

    In this particular case, you’d likely build a craft that nominally had little “payload” as such, but was designed so that the fuel and oxidizer tanks were optimized to be converted to living space; Hard points with bolt on panels that can be replaced with airlocks, for instance. Pre-installed partitions in place of anti-slosh baffles. So you’d launch them to their destination, unmount the engines to return to Earth, and plug them into the structure you were building with minimal alterations needed.

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  50. Seems short sighted to “fill” the sky (Earth orbit) with potential orbital debris when we have the entire solar system to exploit and make ours.

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  51. we can imagine extremely important cargo that would benefit from rapid delivery(like short-lived cell cultures or organs. Could even move disk racks for datacenter syncing). And the cheaper this delivery will be the more stuff will be shipped, especially it becomes “cheaper” than jets which is already not particularly expensive. However, there is a limit how cheap it can be. You sill need about 20-100 times the fuel weight, even if your rocket is free…

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  52. There is an inherent difference in Space produced and launched stations/habs. The Space produced have no concern for being light. This allows them to be far simpler and more robust. Best to crank up the ol’ mass driver for most structural stuff.

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  53. Right on! Some are concerned with global heating. Perhaps totally solving that problem with Space Solar would be a good idea? Power addicts find the mere thought of leaving their control distressing.

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  54. It certainly makes sense to make a “habitat with self-delivery” version.

    One that is meant to be a hab that can land and stays for good.

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  55. “The team says this makes the super steel stronger and tougher than the Grade 300 maraging steel used in aerospace engineering – and the new steel only costs about 20 percent of the price to manufacture.” -researchers at the University of Hong Kong and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL)

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  56. I also don’t get why there are all those Dreamchasers attached to it.

    Probably with the goal of allowing quick complete evacuation, but with Starship, they no longer make sense.

    They could evacuate a full crew of 100 (probably more, if squeezed a bit) in a single Starship. Keeping the Dreamchasers there seems wasteful.

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  57. I imagine SpaceX will first build the Starships required for the whole architecture to work at a basic level, and grow in function of contracts. That means first building and validating the several Starships required for fuel and cargo support roles (the first money makers), then building the crewed one.

    Some of these future contracts can be self funded, though. Mostly through Starlink money.

    They know the world will be slow to react to these new capabilities.

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  58. Really I think that SpaceX will need to make a dedicated LEO fuel depot space station, probably spinning. It is time to start thinking about the infrastructure that will be needed to support all these starships. A SpaceX fuel station will have a small crew and would be big cryo tanks in orbit under low g.

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  59. I don’t like Gateway’s Von Braun. Too much “build on Earth, ship to LEO” thinking. 3D printing and on orbit assembly are bigger deals than most people realize.

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  60. Well if you want to land one Starship per day on the moon then you need about 20 starships minimum so there’s the first 20 (min!) right there.

    Landing one per day means having three in flight to the moon, three in flight back to Earth, five tanker versions going up to LEO, refurbishment, etc.

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  61. Amen to that. Once space is decoupled from government’s sloth-tentacles we will see rapid exploration and growth.

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  62. Funny to see people with that old miser attitude of “not with my taxes!”.

    Well, that’s exactly the point: without public money, space industries will become really free to become what they were meant to be.

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  63. Congratulations for all the hard work in this site. A trully guidebook to a better future.
    Just one note on the Gateway Foundation activity. It has changed the name to Voyager Station. More information in: https://voyagerstation.com/
    Thanks for the effort, and, please keep on with it.
    All the best for us all.
    Best regards,

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  64. Give Elon a lot of money and he will build amazing things. Even if he doesn’t get the money, he will still build them, but it will take longer, he will earn it in some way or another.
    I guess signing for Starlink and supporting Elon’s work would be good thing to do.

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  65. Antarctica and underwater do not inspire the masses like space does therefore there is not a lot of money for it.
    And yet there are science bases in Antarctica and there are underwater research stations. The “why go to space” argument is defunct in an era of space flights not funded by tax payers

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  66. Most of the uses suggested just need the habitable front half of the Starship.
    So, it would make sense to build a ‘stubby’ Starship version, i.e. the fuel tanks, engines and landing gear only ( it would look a lot lke the flying water tower ). That way the habitable section can be separated once at its destination and the ‘stubby’ can be landed on earth to be reused. The major cost element is in the ‘stubby’ so putting the habitable section in LEO should cost around $ 3 million including the build of the section.
    New habitable sections can be built in less time than whole Starships, so the goals can be achieved sooner.
    Stubbys can lift any payload that is light enough and sufficiently aerodynamic, this opens the door to a range of deployable structures made aerodynamic with fill in solar arrays.

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  67. Have they figured out how to take off when there is a slight breeze yet?

    I like the idea of getting to Beijing in 45 minutes instead of 12 hours, but only if I can count on my flight date being firm against all but the most extreme weather.

    As for space, why? We have the technology to live in Antarctica and underwater, and mostly don’t bother. Is space another mostly uninhabitable area only interesting for science and military?

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  68. “All air cargo movement over 1500 miles would shift over to Starships.” I guess fuel costs don’t enter the conversation? Unless you are talking heavy stuff people want quickly, I don’t think they will be using Starships for cargo on Earth. Cargo aircraft are going to remain in the mix for a long time. Though, they will likely turn to large electric ground effects aircraft to cross oceans.

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  69. Which comes first, mass production of 100/yr Starship or the demand for 100/yr Starship?
    Falcon 9 has 27(12 Starlink) planned launches in 2021.
    FH went up 3 times to date.

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  70. If we are figuring out who is working up there, to require such a new exurb of track starship housing/ working. I would say there would be 5x as many orbital exploitation workers as orbital-based scientists, being then 5x more than short-term tourists, being 5x more than long-term tourists and full-time residential. So, its more about roping in asteroids, mining the moon, setting up shipyards, and satellite repair outposts to motivate that first wave of orbital inhabitants. That being said, I still prefer Bigelow inflatable stuff 20 to 1 by volume for work/ live space in these locations. Also, I still believe that robot-workers/ droids/ autonomous orbiting workstations will outnumber humans 1000:1 – so we pretty-much have to build out 100 – 1000 oil rigs worth of infrastructure before we create communities – and then 10x that before orbit becomes self-sustaining and we start to rise up against our ground-based ancestors, denying them the mineral/ molecule wealth and sunlight power they crave.

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  71. Sanitized space suits with helmet would negate the problem with viruses. A cheap or disposable suit with a easily sanitized helmet with a pull down OLED display screen and headphones. No problems with depressurization either, if you need snack or drink on your 50 minute ride to half way around globe just order and suck it up from delivery tube no need to take off the helmet. Biggest problem in present airlines are the toilets, will need a major overhaul of sanitary facilities now and in Starships for zero G. The toilets on long pacific ocean flights are deplorable and the worst sanitary disaster.

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