Elon Musk has just shared a stunning image of the futuristic Starship that SpaceX will be testing in 2019 ahead of future missions to Mars and revealed details about this “test hopper” which is presently being built in Texas.
With so many questions about the design of SpaceX’s new Starship, Elon Musk responded to an abundance of enthusiastic tweets about this spacecraft, noting that the materials used for its construction would be very much like the ones that engineers used back when they were first building Atlas rockets during the 1950s, as the Independent report.
As Musk explained, stainless steel will also be employed to build the Starship, but the architecture, of course, will be completely different from the Atlas rockets.
“Stainless steel is correct, but different mixture of alloys and new architecture. Actually, the only significant design element in common with early Atlas is stainless steel and we’re using a different alloy mix.”
Elon Musk also stated that the special Raptor engine for the Starship, which will propel it upwards and into space, has been “radically redesigned.”
SpaceX’s new spacecraft, which will one day carry up to 100 passengers to Mars, has gone by many different names, including the Mars Colonial Transporter, the Big Falcon Rocket, and the Interplanetary Transport System, but the name Starship finally stuck.
As Futurism notes, building Starship out of stainless steel makes sense when you think about it as this material is able to handle heat exceedingly well, even the extreme type of heat that will be required to send this spacecraft to Mars.
However, as stainless steel does weigh significantly more than carbon fiber, and SpaceX will be wanting to make sure that the Starship isn’t too weighty, Elon Musk explained that with cryogenic treatment, the weight issue of stainless steel material for the spacecraft is no longer an issue.
“Usable strength/weight of full hard stainless at cryo is slightly better than carbon fiber, room temp is worse, high temp is vastly better.”
If you’re wondering when SpaceX will be testing this Mars spacecraft, the answer is not long now. In fact, Musk has written that he will be sharing “a full technical presentation of Starship” once SpaceX launches its very first flight to test it out, and this may be as early as next spring in either March or April.
With Elon Musk still planning to launch manned missions to Mars in 2024, SpaceX’s test flight of Starship in 2019 should put them right on target for their daring and exciting mission of eventually making humans a multi-planetary species.