Elon Musk Thinks the First Orbital Flight of Starship Will Be in 2021

Elon Musk had a phone interview for the Human to Mars Conference. He mentioned that there will be improvements for the Super Heavy Starship.

SpaceX is spending $5 billion on the Super Heavy Starship development program. NASA is providing $100-150 million of support for a lunar version of Starship.

Everyday Astronaut tweeted a picture comparing the Super Heavy Starship size to the Falcon 9 and other rockets.

SOURCES- Elon Musk, Humans to Mars Conference
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

38 thoughts on “Elon Musk Thinks the First Orbital Flight of Starship Will Be in 2021”

  1. In just ten years, SpaceX has succeeded in what tens of thousands of scientists in the USA and the USSR have been working on unsuccessfully for half a century.

  2. Lowering equipment to operate from a colony at 50km moving at up to 340km/hr (with the winds) might be 'difficult'.

    But dipping down in the eye of the polar vortex could be "exciting". Probably a great seed for a hard science space adventure.

    I'm wondering if the time isn't ripe for a new golden age of hard science space adventure stories. "Delta-V" by Daniel Suarez was pretty good.

  3. For human crews, distance IS important, as that largely determines mission duration.

    Without spin gravity or sufficient mass for decent shielding, keeping a free-space mission's time reasonably short is very important, probably critical to getting it approved.

  4. A successful Starship landing on Earth is likely harder than just getting a nearly empty Starship (i.e. no refueling, direct launch) to Mars to attempt landing.

    Musk might send such a Starship to Mars in 2022, deploying a small 'black box' satellite in orbit to record Starship telemetry and re-transmit that back to Earth.

    That should help make a more serious (refueled, loaded with cargo) attempt in 2024 successful.

    Also, even a crashed Starship could be useful to early colonists, if not too far away.

  5. Distance is not as important as Delta-V. There are a lot of small near earth asteroids. If we put a large enough infrared telescope in orbit we will be able to identify a lot more.

  6. The day that last for months would bother me. As part of the sunshade we can beam light down on the planet including the back side on a 24 hour cycle.

    The sun shade will cool Venus down and the pressure will drop. We will need a way to remove the excess CO2. We could chemically process Venus rock to lock in the excess CO2 and we can bio-engineer a plant species to remove the excess CO2 from the atmosphere. We are going to need a lot of water but there are asteriods and comets in abundance.

  7. I was paying attention from the start. What I read was that HCQ allowed zinc to penetrate the cell membrane and that zinc interfered with the virus ability to reproduce. It seem a plausible hypothesis to me.

    But HCQ does have its flaws. It is dangerous for people with heart arrhythmia and for people with G6PD.

    I think there should be a double blind clinical trial with it that exclude vulnerable people. This way we can see how effective it is.

    I am not the kind of person who believes we should take no risk while a pandemic is busy killing people. I believe we should take reasonable risk but we should be gather enough information to prove that what we are doing works.

  8. Should be faster than a year and a half. I'd be disappointed if it wasn't by March, but should be no later than Q2 2021.

  9. That would be my guess as well based on the effects seen in the space station astronauts. The first colonists on Mars had better be temporary residents. Otherwise, within a few years they will be experiencing serious health problems.

  10. I don't think the division into clades is actually going to be a problem: Differences aggravate bickering, distance reduces it.

    I do think this is going to motivate colonization of the outer solar system, including colonizing comets and giving them a kick to solar escape velocity. If you wanted to do radical biological or social experiments, you'd want to buy some more distance.

    But, despite our differences, Dan is right: We're not going to see speciation very soon, not this century at least. Even with germ line genetic engineering, it would take a while to kick in.

    Seriously, though, we really need to find out how humans respond to partial gravity. Even Dan's O'Neill colonies would be run at partial Earth gravity if that proved healthy, for reasons of structural economy.

    And it's quite possible that any biological intervention would be to render humans viable under a wide range of conditions, rather than to optimize us for zero G. No big reason to go full quaddie, it would probably be enough to enable us to cope with variable gravity, and higher radiation.

    And maybe prehensile feet would be nice, so long as you could still walk on them.

  11. You do have half a point there, but only half, because it's not like you're personally interviewing most of the medical profession, now, is it? You're going off a few published studies in medical journals, and what gets reported in the media. The information you're getting is going through multiple choke points, and all that would be necessary is for those choke points to agree to discredit HCQ. And the media choke points are something like 95% opposed to Trump, so at least for them it's plausible.

    That's the other half a point. We don't have the word "conspiracy" or it's counterpart in most languages in the world because conspiracies never happen, you know.

  12. That seems pretty pessimistic if we're just talking about a first orbital launch attempt, not "successful" or "fully operational".

    Most of what they've learned on Starship should apply to SuperHeavy design and assembly, which they're starting now. Lots of work to scale up to 28 Raptors, but I also would also expect the first orbital attempt to use fewer engines. Launching with no payload on Starship should mean about half the fuel on Starship, so about half as much load for SuperHeavy to lift. Why risk valuable Raptors?

    I'd not be too surprised to see a SuperHeavy hop test this year, though I wouldn't bet on it. SpaceX has gotten fast at building the components.

    The 2022 cargo Starship to Mars date does seem pretty "aspirational", though maybe it could happen if it doesn't carry much cargo, so it doesn't require refueling.

  13. The Atens that come close to Earth and stay close long enough to make a 'hit and run' mining visit (3-6 month total trip) might be worth considering within a decade.

    Of course, the downside is that you have to wait for an asteroid to wander near enough.

    This might result in something of a cyclical "gold rush", which would be interesting.

  14. In order to meet the "orbital flight in 2021" the maximum amount of time remaining from today is 16 months, or approximately a year and a half.

  15. The fundamental problem with Mars is the low gravity. I think its too low for long term human habitation.

  16. Yes, there's an altitude at which the atmospheric pressure and temperature are both reasonable for humans. As a perk, the wind velocity at that altitude is such that you don't get a crazy day length, either.

    CO2 is enough denser than our air that a breathable air mix is an excellent lifting gas, so people could simply live inside big balloons.

    If you wanted to reach ground level materials, I'd assume you'd lower equipment on cables, operated from the livable altitude, similar to ocean mining. So it isn't like you'd be limited to obtaining your minerals from off the planet.

    There's some reason to believe a polar vortex on Venus contains relatively cold "air" around the poles, such that ground level equipment could operate long term without serious refrigeration in those areas.

    Aside from the fact that you'd have to be in the high atmosphere, Venus has the most Earth-like conditions available anywhere in the Solar system away from Earth. It's an excellent candidate for planetary colonization.

    I'm an asteroid advocate, myself, though.

  17. So, suddenly most of the the medical profession from several countries, that don't like or even know each other, agree to discredit a product just to make Trump look bad?

    Typical conspiracy thinking.

  18. You don't have to be a master epidemiologist to understand that the HCQ triple-drug treatment has not been given the proper trial that are justified by the imperfect, though pretty encouraging, results that many places around the world have experienced with using it.

    It could be that those encouraging results are misleading, but they are so encouraging that an honest clinical trial should have been a high priority months ago. Instead all that has been done have been frauds and irrelevant trials (and it is hard not to conclude that they were deliberately designed to discredit HCQ treatment, not give it a fair test).

    It might be that Musk is overstating the case for HCQ, but neither you nor I know what he actually has learned about it from actual master medical researchers. Regardless of whether he is overstating what is known about HCQ, what I said above stands, independent of anything Musk has said.

  19. Not at the top of the atmosphere. I read that the temperature is actually "short sleeve" at that altitude. The pressure is not crushing like it would be on the surface. And I also read that you could float a steel balloon (or similar) at a certain altitude due to the density of the lower atmosphere. Of course at that altitude about the only resource you could harvest would be atmospheric gases. But i guess you could send out harvesters at least to snag inner solar system asteroids or possibly even remote controlled surface mining machines if you could keep them from frying dissolving or imploding.

  20. And of course this is only the first roll back. Someone should make an analysis for different types of engineering programs of the discrepancy between the initial goals for cost for time and cost and compare it to the actual numbers. Maybe the results can be used to factor in the true likely completion time and costs when the initial goals are set.

  21. A sun shade isn't enough for Venus. Venus still has a crushing atmosphere and a day that lasts for months.

  22. The problem should not soon arise, as most will be in Space and mobile between 1 g places. Even in other star systems, this will be true, and if there are any people, there will be many, slowing the drift. If you start with the assumption that we will create our own custom habs, enuf for trillions in this star system, why worry? The show presented divergent planetary speciation as the only option! No place else to go, they indicate, so must adapt or die. Quite depressing compared to O'Neill. Nit-pick: 'G' is the gravitational constant, 'g' is the happenstance value of the related force (acceleration) on Earth's surface, more or less. And very interesting addition to genetic/phenotypical manipulation is epigentic (aka gene expression and regulation) controls, esp those related to nurture/environment (low/high g!), as well as the more expected developmental mechanisms.

  23. Considering the divisiveness and bickering nature of humans over the most trivial things, I don't believe it's a good idea to create several human clades that would be actually different biologically.

    And living in other planets or low G environments could produce such a result, even if it's only because their offspring (assuming they can have it) could no longer live in 1 G and they could even look different.

    Yeah, I'm aware of implant technologies and genetic/phenotypical manipulation. These techs could start turning us into transhumans gradually regardless. Musk is also working at it now.

    But it's different if the mass of humans start gradually changing themselves from hitting such situation face to wall, when there wouldn't be any mitigation for it.

  24. I just saw it. So, yeah, on topic.

    BTW, Elon should stick to the topics he masters. The Internet has already too many impromptu epidemiologists nowadays.

  25. continued …..

    While there are some people who can be harmed by HCQ, it has been used for malaria and several auto-immune diseases for decades, so its safety profile is well known. As I understand it, in most cases, the harm comes only with prolonged use. Use for treating Covid-19 requires only a 5 to 10 day course of the triple-drug treatment, so effects that come only from prolonged use probably would not be a problem. Maybe there are some people who would be at risk from just a few days of treatment with HCQ. If so, since the safety profile is well-known, it ought to be possible to check whether any given patient would be at risk and either admit them to a hospital to monitor them carefully during the treatment, or withhold the treatment from them. In either case, that should not be reason to deny the treatment to those not at risk.

  26. What you write here seems to indicate that you do not understand what the doctors who first advocated for use of HCQ said it was good for.

    It is claimed to be pretty effective, when given at the first signs of illness, at keeping the disease from progressing to the point where the patient even needs hospitalization, let alone critical care. If you hold off using HCQ until that point, the disease has progressed past the point at which HCQ is claimed to be effective.

    I have no idea whether HCQ (with azithromycin and zinc — don't forget that it is a three-component treatment) is as effective as claimed. However, I am nearly certain that the clinical trials that claimed to show that it was ineffective were either complete frauds (as the articles in Lancet and one other top journal were withdrawn) or were shams intended to yield a bad result by only using it too late, and in one case, by grossly overdosing the patients. The people responsible for those frauds and sham studies should be prosecuted.

    There are many observational studies that appear to show good results when HCQ is used as originally suggested. I have seen quite a few reports that say it is being used routinely in many countries, also with apparently good results. None of that is proof that it works as well as claimed by some, but those experiences are more than enough evidence to warrant a proper clinical trial of the original way it was suggested to be usedj. (Damn comment length limit cut me off again.)

  27. Brian posted a tweet sequence from Elon Musk from March that started with Musk giving his uninformed opinion on HCQ

  28. Agreed. Asteroids is where is at.

    From there, materials and manufactured goods that allow us to build O'Neill habitats. The Moon itself is like a very big asteroid, concerning the ways to get stuff out of it.

    But for going there, we need something that will focus the creative impetus of humanity for some time, and produce the required rockets, spaceships and technologies for asteroid mining and rotating habitats.

  29. A year and a half might seem long but it was a year ago that the Hopper first hopped. There will be a lot of milestones between now and then. Two different rockets to prototype, build, and test. There will be at least one flight a month and maybe more towards the end. More than enough action to keep us all entertained.

  30. The Asteriods and the Trojans are probable better places for humanity to colonize than Mars. There is far more raw material in accessible chunks there than on Mars.

    The weightlessness problem will be solvable.

    And if you want something earth like, Venus is available. A sun shade would make it habitable.

  31. The major problem with HCQ is that it tends to kill people who need it the most: old people, people with heart problem, people with G6PD.

    Vitamin D and its derivative calcifediol is safer and more effective. ideas should never get stuck in people's head.

  32. "Human to Mars Conference". Just saw a new show "Life 2.0" that was about human evolution in Space, far future mostly. Started with robot company showing mining bots. They talked about sending these to Mars, but also to *the belt* where we can build ANYTHING, and showed standard Island 3 pic, as well as other stuff. But then the other segments were all (only!) about Mars and distant planets for us to have to adapt to, apparently not watching their own show! Even the mining bot company missed lunar mining and Globus ELEO, the clear place to start. Gerard K. O'Neill "The High Frontier". Read it before complaining about it.

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