Elon Musk, CEO and Founder of SpaceX Starship, presented the fully-assembled Starship Mk.1 prototype on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Musk gave glimpses and updates on the latest design of Starship. The date also marks the 17th anniversary of SpaceX.
SpaceX Starship envisioned as a fully and quickly reusable transportation system constructed to accommodate crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and anywhere in the solar system.
Starship will be the most powerful rocket in history, capable of carrying humans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond pic.twitter.com/LloN8AQdei— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 29, 2019
The prototype, standing 50 m (164 ft), is expected to be placed in Earth's orbit within six months for testing and observation.
"There are many troubles in the world, of course. These are important and we need to solve them. But we also need things that make us excited to be alive, that make us glad to wake up in the morning and be fired up about the future and think, yeah, the future's gonna be great. This Space Exploration is one of those things," Musk said on the presentation in front of SpaceX employees, guests, reporters, and live stream viewers.
The vehicle aims to fulfill Musk's promise of conducting commercial flights to orbit the Moon, Mars, and off-world bases.
Inside Starship cargo bay. Header tanks mounted in tip of nosecone to offset engine weight at rear. pic.twitter.com/EJSwqMCooA— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 1, 2019
The SpaceX founder tweeted a video that shows the interior of Mk. 1's cargo bay. These bays will accommodate passengers destined for the moon and Mars.
"This thing is gonna take off, fly to 65 000 feet about (20 km), and come back in the land in about one to two months."
Concept images showed a stainless-steel skin, but Musk said that the production version will be a lot more polished than the prototype.
11 years ago today, we launched our first successful mission. To date, we’ve completed 78 launches and have developed the world’s only operational reusable orbital class rockets and spacecraft—capable of launching to space, returning to Earth, and flying again pic.twitter.com/5L0q9PJ90P— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 29, 2019
Starship will provide affordable delivery of significant quantities of cargo and people, essential for building Moon bases and Mars cities pic.twitter.com/0BImZP1qmM— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 29, 2019
He also explained how Starship enters and how it's controlled. "It's really quite different from anything else. It's really falling. So we're doing a controlled fall. So with a rocket, you're actually trying to break."
"The Starship will have three sea-level engines that move up to about 15° angle and three vacuum engines that are optimized for efficiency that will not move. They will be just fixed in place. That allows us to have the biggest bell nozzle, vacuum raptor engines. Aspirationally, the target is a 380-second ISP for the vacuum engine. In space geek terms, this is really a great number."
Musk further explained that the heat shield is very light but crack-resistant. The steel used is 301 stainless steel, which is the lightest construction and according to him, the best design decision.
"At cryogenic temperatures, a 301 stainless actually has about the same effective strength as an advanced composite or aluminum-lithium. Unlike most steels, which get brittle at low temperature, 301 stainless gets much stronger."
Ultimately, Starship will carry as many as 100 people on long-duration, interplanetary flights pic.twitter.com/mDujtYeLwV— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 29, 2019
The Starship could complete a trip from New York to Tokyo in 30 minutes, the CEO said. "It's basically an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) that lands."
If the aircraft gets to orbit in six months, we could potentially see passengers fly by 2020, he added.
Musk also said he is looking forward to establishing colonies on the Moon and Mars, making the human race interplanetary. "As far as we know, we're the only consciousness or the only life that's out there. There might be other life, but we've seen no signs of it."
"I think we should do our very best to become a multi-planet species and we should do it now."
Featured image credit: @SpaceX/Twitter