SpaceX Batches Major Starship Prototype Upgrades

Elon Musk says the SN15 rolls to launch pad in a few days. It has hundreds of design improvements across structures, avionics/software and engine. Next major technology rev is at SN20. Those ships will be orbit-capable with heat shield and stage separation system. Ascent success probability is high.

However, SN20+ vehicles will probably need many flight attempts to survive Mach 25 entry heating and land intact.

The SN10 and SN11 launches were a little over 3 weeks apart. The previous batch of

SOURCES- Elon Musk, Brendan2908, Wikipedia
Written By Brian Wang,

24 thoughts on “SpaceX Batches Major Starship Prototype Upgrades”

  1. Now, Warren Buffet floated the idea of back-up methane to Texas in case of another freeze. Musk is already building tanks, right? Now, I think Musk needs to put J-79 turbojets along saddle tank keropods with methalox afterburners to also help settle slosh with the Venturi effect. Now…do a wiki search on Calvert Alabama…and G&G steel in Cordova.

    Get methane off an off-shore rig for free…launch out of Mobile, with trajectory on and along the calmer gulf side of the Florida peninsula for tracking/aborts/debris mitigation.

  2. I suspect they have been planning vacuum rated versions of their EVs for a while. For practical and unpractical purposes.

    It would make a hell of a commercial to put a Tesla on the Moon or Mars.

    After all, they already put one in interplanetary space!

    It could get more impact if the car works and can be remotely controlled.

  3. He treats it like an obsession. Bezos treats Blue Origin like a hobby.

    Musk is willing to make mistakes and learn from them. Bezos doesn't seem to be quite so… willing to put things out.

  4. They may need to add more sensors and cameras to the spaceship to see what is going on during flight. Infrared cameras, stress sensors, leak detectors. I think the end maneuver is over stressing the ship and rupturing the fuel tank causing leaks.

  5. The cybertruck isn't vacuum rated; The batteries would likely swell, the electronics, including the motors, rely on air cooling, use of volatile lubricants. And the daytime temperatures on the Moon are pretty darned high, as the nighttime temperatures are low.

    I don't doubt that they could throw a vacuum rated one together, though, with severely downrated performance.

  6. I've been giving some thought to in orbit refueling lately. Probably the best way is to have a dedicated satellite in orbit with a long tether; Hang the fuel hauler over the ship to be refueled, and spin the assembly up just enough to settle the fuel. That IS the biggest issue, getting the fuel to settle instead of floating around inside the tank.

    The longer the tether, the less the satellite would need to weigh, you just need the center of gravity of the system to be above the fuel hauler.

    Ideally you want a dedicated fuel depot, rather than doing this maneuver multiple times.

  7. I've occasionally said that they should take the scrap metal from the crashed test articles, melt it down, and cast it into commemorative models. Maybe 100th scale, 1/2 meter tall.

    They'd sell, that's for sure.

  8. why? If you have no investment and your input doesn't matter, why do you need to do ANYTHING?

  9. Their own lunar rover program?

    Yep, I can see them do that, just for kicks and showing they can. A lunar landing would demand less from Starship, maybe allowing it to land and drop a package.

    But it could have its own complications, if a Raptor creates a helluva lot of debris. I think that's why they are planning a lunar version for Artemis.

    Cybertruck is supposed to have solar panels, so it could be self recharging. It would need some backup power supply to keep it warm and functional on the 2 week nights, though.

    Also the communications could be difficult, if they have to share bandwidth with government space missions.

    This looks as something to do after they have a lunar Starlink. Which should be feasible with a handful of satellites covering almost all the lunar surface.

  10. Once they reach orbit, SpaceX needs to work on the refueling. Once that is working, send a version to the Moon with at least a radio controlled Cyber Truck.
    That is something that could be done by the end of the year. And be a major game changer even if they haven't solved the re-entry problem by then.

  11. ((and at the risk of being grossly scorned))..
    Elon could get a model licensed through Lego – got ISS, Saturn V, Shuttle, SW up-the-wahoo…

  12. hardest is yet to come.
    to say you're the One who started an industry is noble at the time, but History is written by Winners.. so, come 2029 – when we are past Artemis, have some asteroid explorations/ exploitations, have competing starlink projects, some permanent private stations, (or private ISS extensions), regular private launches, etc.. we will then know the SpaceX legacy. Same with Tesla and Boring.
    For we all know Edison, who won the Race.. but who made that race even possible?

  13. Thanks for the updates, Brian. You picked a winner when you invested in Musk.

    Elon Musk is the most consequential man of my lifetime. From FinTech (Paypal) to Solar Roofing to Energy Storage to Cars to Rockets to Subterranean Transportation, this man is unreal. My hope is that he succeeds beyond expectations. He is literally pushing mankind forward.

    Ford and Carnegie could spectacularly dominate 1 industry each. Elon is poised to dominate multiple industries.


    Nothings for sure, and everything involves risk. The risks he takes are breathtaking. Supposedly, he was weeks away from running out of cash for Tesla, but secured funding at the last minute. Even if he experiences some stunning failures (the law of averages says he will), I admire him.

    For the first time in my 57 years of life, I am a fanboy.

    And not ashamed of it.

    You go, Elon. I can't wait to see what happens when you get to SN25…

  14. Good to see they will resume with the first goal of these machines: launching things to space.

    If they can launch a full Starship SH to orbit, even if they both RUD on return, they still can bring a lot of cargo to space at competitive prices, and start talking business with the new rocket.

    Reuse can be learned as they go, the same as they did with Falcon 9.

    Besides there's nothing like the real conditions of re-entry to show them how it really is.

  15. Correct. I don't think you can even buy stock in SpaceX. Musk's impression is that space is way too important to allow anyone else creative control on what to do. He refuses to answer to a board of directors or play by any of the normal rules that CEO's have to live by.
    It's a private company and he is the High Grand Master Supreme Allied Commander. He might listen to someone else's suggestions, but nobody else has the power to tell him what not to do.

  16. As long as he's producing real results, I have no great problem with his overly optimistic projected schedules. He's quite clear about them being "best case", not "most likely".

  17. Elon definitely cultivates his mass audience but not because that’s his main job or especially for SpaceX, to keep investors happy. He still owns a majority of the stock and much of the rest is held by a few major long term investors or employees.

    What some people view as hype and grandiose promises others including current and future employees view as inspiration and SpaceX’s real mission.

  18. Yes, engine upgrades too. I've not come across any specifics though. In a conversation over on Cosmoquest a day or so ago a commentor mentioned that the version of the Raptor on SN15 would not "fit" in the earlier generation Starship prototypes. But again, no details.

  19. Musk job at SpaceX/Tesla is keeping the momentum of hype in media, working 24/7(through tweets) on not losing huge fanbase, a lot of them also investors.
    He's basically a promotor, which is not bad, he's obviously good at it. Became richest man thanks to his skill in promoting his companies.

    Because of this hype promotor role, we as objective judges (not having shares in any of his companies) should take all those grandiose promises and dates with scepticism.

    I am curious what they will do with the engines.
    If problem with flames will still exist, I would probably start to believe that Bezos could catch up

  20. Engine upgrades, too? I wouldn't have thought they'd have to wait on a new series for engine improvements, unless the interface to the rocket changed. Or maybe they were just burning through old engines?

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