Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship could change space travel as we know it, and he plans to use it sooner rather than later.
The Starship is built from stainless steel (which is a feat all on its own) and stands almost 33 feet taller than the Saturn V. It has a planned payload of up to 165 tons. It will be able to put more things into space with five flights than ever before. Just the upper part of the Starship contains more pressurized volume than the International Space Station.
Big Plans and Little Cost For SpaceX’s Starship
While the SpaceX Starship may be bigger than any other spacecraft used to take humans to space, that isn’t the only thing that makes it special. By itself, that’s hardly revolutionary. Instead, it’s a combination of factors that makes the spacecraft so appealing.
Elon Musk wants to establish a human colony on Mars someday. To do so, he estimates that he’ll need over one million tons of supplies. Part of the reason the Starship is so big is so it will be able to get the job done fast. That still means multiple launches, though.
Thankfully, another part of the Starship’s appeal is its cost. Multiple launches can get expensive, but not for SpaceX. To launch most existing rockets, it costs tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. The famed Saturn V might have even cost over $1 billion in today’s money to launch. When it comes to putting people in space, though, SpaceX’s Starship hopes to cost somewhere in the low millions.
This combination of size and cost-effectiveness is groundbreaking in the space industry. NASA and other space companies typically have to monitor cost and the cargo that they send. With SpaceX’s Starship, those days may be behind us. There will be fewer restrictions and more opportunities for us to get into space.
Reusability Helps Keep Cost Down
Another interesting thing is that the Starship will be fully reusable. SpaceX has already been dabbling in reusing spacecraft (namely, their Falcon 9 rockets), but this would be a game-changer. The Economist reports that the entire Starship is built with reusability in mind, from the materials it’s made out of to the fuel it takes.
Since Starship hasn’t yet been sent into orbit, we haven’t even realized the full potential of it. There are a lot of challenges that lie between SpaceX and getting their Starship into space, but Elon Musk has no doubts. He expects the Starship to be in orbit by the end of this year, at least. It has to pass reviews and successfully complete some test flights, but Musk is confident in his creation. “Starship will work,” Musk said. “There’ll be a few bumps along the road, but it’ll work.”